When they say their products and interfaces are "open", they mean "open" in their own typical AOL way.
Check this out:
Q: Are there any restrictions on what I can build?
A: We tried to make the Open AIM Program as restriction-free as possible, but in order to help protect our network and users, certain rules apply. We have highlighted some below, but please refer to the Developers License Agreement for details.
- Developers are not permitted to build Custom Clients that are multi-headed or interoperable with any other IM network.
- Custom Clients developed for use on a mobile device or via a wireless telecommunications carrier's network and/or wireless services require separate licensing and business agreements with AOL. Any inquiries regarding mobile applications should be sent to AIMCommercial@aol.com.
No "multiheaded" free clients. So they still want to freeze out Pidgin and Adium, and they are still terrified of competition.
And no free clients that run on smartphones, or other "mobile devices" on a "wireless telecommunications network". They dont want their existing clients that they license to the telcos (for a lot of poorly spent money) to have to compete. And what happens when someone is using a laptop or handheld, and slides in an EVDO card, thus turning it into a "mobile device on a wireless telecommunications network"?
As I look farther, signing a developer agreement with them still doesnt net you a copy of the actual wire protocols. They instead give you a license to an overweight interface library for a "supported platform", and permit you to link against that.
That's not "open".
I run Pidgin (formerly known as Gaim). I have it client for my ICQ, AIM, YM, and MSN accounts just because so many friends and family insist on using them.
But if you want to IM me, I really prefer you use XMPP/Jabber, that is, Google Talk or LJ chat.