I worked at AOL for a period of time far shorter than I anticipated, departing because of personal reasons. However, in my time there on the AOL Instant Messenger team, I was involved on two projects that eventually got released.
In 2004, AIM released some premium service features on top of its flagship Instant Messenger product. As part of AOL’s “de-bundling” strategy, AIM released premium Buddy Icons and Expressions. So in addition to the limited selection that the free AIM member could access, AIM was also offering for a fee, access to all the Buddy Icons and Expressions that were offered by full AOL subscribers.
AIM and ABC collaborated to create an new and innovative feature within the popular Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? game show. AIM partnered with the gameshow to create a MillionaireIM “bot” that would enable the show’s viewers at home to participate in the “Ask the Audience” lifeline via Instant Messenger. When the AIM user added MillionaireIM to their buddy list, they would receive an IM from the show, when a contestant was in the hotseat and was using their Ask the Audience lifeline, asking the question that the contestant was stumped on. So not only would the contestant get the results from the studio audience, they would also see the results from the AIM audience that responded via IM. While the target audience for the gameshow did not exactly align with that of AIM, a major reason we did it was as a proof of concept, to test the concept, and to create the model that could be re-used for future opportunities