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AOL Continues To Block OS X, Fire Users

AOL Continues To Block OS X, Fire Users

by , 12:30 PM EST, March 27th, 2001

Since the release of OS X Public Beta last September, OS X users having been flocking by the thousands to a little OS X native instant messaging application called Fire. VersionTracker alone lists the number of Fire downloads at over 30, 000, and that does not include people getting the program from other sources.

Fire, in its latest incarnation, supports IM protocols for six services, including AIM, ICQ, Yahoo!, and MSN. However, the AOL people seem none too pleased by the program's popularity. With the official release of OS X, Fire received a major upgrade. However, Fire users were blocked from logging on to the AOL servers later that day. Fire's author, Eric Peyton, updated the program to work around the AOL block, but the good folks at AOL again managed to block Fire access yesterday morning. With due diligence, Mr. Peyton again upgraded Fire, and AOL has again blocked Fire users from using the AIM service.

Why would AOL do this? The main reason is rather obvious. AOL versions of the AIM client show users advertisements the entire time that the AIM client is open. Fire does not show these ads, so one could assume that AOL is losing revenue from the absent ads. While this is a totally fair, totally rational assessment of the situation, OS X users currently have few other options.

Depending on who you believe, AOL is working on either a Cocoa or Carbon version of their AIM client for OS X. While it may indeed be a work in progress, there is no "Authorized" native OS X version available. Of course, users can always run the OS 9 version of AIM under OS X's Classic environment, but for OS X users longing to make the switch that option defeats the purpose. Beyond that, the OS 9 version of AIM is one of the more unstable pieces of software one will find in mass circulation.

Hopefully we will see a resolution to this issue soon. Mr. Peyton can only update the application so often, as he is offering this brilliant piece of software for free. It does appear, however, that until AOL finally releases an OS X native version, users of Apple's latest OS offering are going to be left in the dark.

You can find more information about Fire at Eric Peyton's Web site.

The Mac Observer Spin:

All AOL is accomplishing by this latest move is to upset and alienate a large number of Mac OS X users. If they were offering their own OS X ready AIM client, their actions would be slightly more understandable.

Along those same lines, if Mr. Peyton was using Fire to generate revenue, AOL would also have a more ligitimate reason for blocking Fire access. However, neither of these situations is the case, and it is leaving Mac OS X users with no native client for Apple's crown jewel of an OS.

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