May 13, 2011

AOL Rolling Out New Video Chat Service

AOL Inc. rolled out the first version of a free video chat service for its AIM instant messenger on Thursday that does not require users to log in or download any software.

Jason Shellen, a leader of the AIM team, said the service was created as a way to have quick, easy video chats.  Although there are plenty of other voice and video chat offerings available for computers and smartphones, there are few that offer the capability without a login or software download.

A user gets a unique link from AV and sends it to friends.  Once a friend with a webcam clicks on that link, a chat window pops up on the screen and shows live video of the user who started chat session.

The service has several features, like the ability to type messages to individual users while video chatting.  The originator of the chat session also has the ability to remove others from the chat.  Shellen said other features will arrive in the next few weeks, including one called "Group Shot" that allows you to take a photo of everyone participating in the chat at once.

AV uses Adobe System's Inc.'s Flash software, which means the new service will not work on an iPad or iPhone.

Shellen said his team is exploring the ability of making the service available for other platforms and as a mobile app.

At this time there are no plans for AOL to make money from AV.

AV's release comes two days after Microsoft Corp. said it would pay $8.5 billion for popular Internet phone service Skype.


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