RealTime IT News

AOL Opens AIM to Bot Makers

America Online has formally opened up its AIM instant messaging network to bot-makers with the launch of a pay-per-use AIM Bot Program targeting enterprise customers.

As part of its never-ending quest to make money from its popular AIM product, AOL has teamed up with bot developers ConverseAgent (formerly ActiveBuddy) and InfiniteAgent to launch "a streamlined and efficient process" to design, build, certify and deploy IM bots on the network.

Under the program, AOL said enterprises could also work with certified partners like IMlogic, FaceTime, Akonix and Macromedia to use IM bot development software to produce and deploy bots for AIM buddy lists.

AOL's messaging unit has been actively using AIM Robots to attract new advertisers but, with the AIM Bot Program, businesses will now have access to the network without having to make an ad purchase through AOL.

Brian Curry, senior director of AOL's AIM Network Services, told internetnews.com the company would continue to offer bot packages that AIM Network access in addition to promotion on AOL properties.

However, access to the IM network can also be purchased without a promotions package. Pricing for network access is session-based with tiers based on usage.

A user session begins when the bot or the end-user starts a chat conversation and ends when the IM window is closed or the conversation is inactive for 15 minutes.

Curry said that for consumer-facing bots, which are typically used by marketers, the fee is set at $1,000 for up to 50,000 sessions a month. For between 50,00 and 150,000 sessions, the price is $2,500 a month. The next tier, priced at $5,000 per month, handles between 150,000 and 500,000 sessions. For high-traffic bots serving more than 500,000 sessions, AOL will charge $0.01 per session. An unlimited monthly sessions option is available for $20,000 a month, Curry said.

A separate pricing structure is available for enterprise customers looking to use IM bots to communicate with employees and business partners over the AIM Network. Curry said enterprise-friendly pricing based on seats or sessions has been set, with software and implementation services provided through certified bot partners.