If AOL decides to implement the feature after the testing, it will be available only to AOL members, not to those who are using its AIM instant messaging service that is available free, — at least initially — an AOL spokesman said on Tuesday.
The feature lets members record video messages on a Web camera and then forward the short messages using instant messaging to others on AOL, who can then open it. As part of the test, the same type of transfer can be done with audio files.
The offerings do not fly in the face of conditions the Federal Communications Commission put on AOL at the time of its Time Warner merger in 2001 because it does not include streaming applications, the spokesman said.
“If I were to send you a video message using the feature, I’d record it, then I’d send it to you. You would open it and then it would play, as opposed to streaming it live and always-on between users,” the spokesman said.
FCC barred the new AOL Time Warner from offering streaming video over an advanced instant messaging system until it was interoperable with others because AOL at the time was the dominant player in the instant messaging sector.
The company started testing the new video and audio features in the last two weeks to see if it would be well-received by its users before including it in the next version of the AOL service. It has been more popular among early adopters rather than the mass market, thus far.