AOL is charging $1.95 a month, or $9.95 a year, for its "AIM Expressions," at the end of March, AOL spokesman Derrick Mains said. Launched in July 2002, the product lets AIM users decorate their buddy clients and chat windows with graphics from popular movies or rock bands and other images.
The move highlights AOL's ongoing crusade to tap into new revenue streams in the face of plummeting online advertising and declining subscriber growth.
as a way to help turn around the company's fortunes. Since then, AOL has that costs $5.95 a month on top of its standard dial-up subscription of $23.90 a month.
The company is taking a step into the unknown by adding a subscription fee to its IM application. Until now, Internet leaders AOL, Microsoft's MSN and Yahoo have resisted charging for any part of their IM services, fearing that fees could spark defections into the arms of competitors. Yahoo has introduced IMVironments,that lets marketers embed their images or products into its highly frequented messenger service.
The new AOL subscription, first reported by Internetnews.com, will include unlimited downloads of AIM Expressions. Existing AOL subscribers will not have to pay a fee.