On Thursday, AOL’s Head of AIM Products Jason Shellen sent an email to AOL staffers announcing the "super secret internal launch" of a "shiny new video chat product dubbed 'AV.'" The email offered employees a chance to try out the new product, but clearly warned them, "DO NOT SHARE THIS WITH ANYONE OUTSIDE AOL!"
TechCrunch wasn’t included the email, even though it's owned by AOL, but it did manage to receive a leaked copy. The blog was a bit miffed at being left out of the loop, so what did it do? Released the memo and a link to the beta version of AV, of course! (The linked address also makes one wonder whether AOL's putting an AIM product called AV at aim.com/av was really the wisest choice for keeping it "super secret.") "Since we didn’t technically get the email, I have no problem sharing it," said TechCrunch’s MG Siegler.
TechCrunch tested AV and said that that the video chat product “actually looks pretty good.” The format is “super simple and well done”: Users don’t need an account—or anything apart from Flash—to chat. All they have to do is go to the AV homepage, start a chat, get a link, and send it to up to three friends. Aside from video chatting, Siegler says, AV also offers text chat.
The product is still in its testing phase—in the email, AOL asked its employees to give feedback and bug reports—and Shellen said that it is “the first of several substantial new AIM launches” coming soon, focusing on better web software.
"Reached for comment, Shellen refused to and seemed annoyed," Siegler said, but he thinks AOL should look at the bright side: "Hey, it was either us publishing this or Business Insider, right? We’re brothers!"