The Shifted Librarian has a good reference on the growing importance of IM, particularly to the younger generation. Isn’t it AOL’s hugest strategic error — that they decided to give away AIM? It is the only thing we really need on our broadband connection and it is free. If I was AOL, I’d bite the bullet now and start charging for AIM (free for kids, nominal fee for college students, full price for adults). Sure you might drive some users away — but you are losing your user base anyway, might as well try some active measures rather than just letting them passively disappear.