The iconic messenger service from the 90s that ruled the roost and paved the way for so many Digital Era memories is bidding goodbye to its community. AOL has confirmed that they are shutting down AIM, their flagship Instant Messenger service, this December.
The company made the announcement in an official blog post detailing the journey the platform had experienced throughout the decades. When the internet came into being, instant chat messengers were all the rage.
In the 1990s, when technology was still in its nascent stages, being able to send a message to someone across the globe and receive replies in an instant was quite magical, to put it subtly.
Yahoo was the most prominent IM platform, and AOL Messenger was no less as both companies competed for the glorious throne.
In the mid-2000s, the scenario changed with a huge cultural shift and the arrival of countless numbers of apps. AOL Instant Messenger had to cope with increased competition but it ultimately failed. Then, public attention was shifting to a new website called Facebook, which has now grown to be the only social media site that almost the entire world’s population hops onto daily.
An Official Note from the Company
The one to break the news was an executive from AOL, the parent company that brought AIM into the mainstream market 20 years ago.
Michael Albers, the company’s vice president of communications, wrote thatAOL Instant Messenger was successful in bringing forth a cultural shift by changing the way people communicate with each other and since then, the paradigm has changed rapidly with modern technology offering more platforms to stay in touch.
But it is with great pride in AIM’s history that the company has finally made the decision to shut down the platform on December 15, 2017.
He further added that the team that worked to build this iconic chat software in the past, along with newcomers, will work together to continue building game-changing technologies. The goal is to build the next generation of products that would eventually change the lives of users around the world.
An Iconic Technology
AOL Instant Messenger was originally launchedback in 1997 and is one among the pioneers to make instant chat messaging apps a phenomenon. The service was prominently featured in some of the most iconic and culturally timeless entertainment classics like the popular television series ‘Sex and the City’ and the memorable film ‘You’ve Got Mail.’
For the uninitiated, AOL Instant Messenger didn’t lose to its Digital Era competitors like WhatsApp, as most modern day youngsters would assume.
Rather, it couldn’t cope up with the technology of SMS, which allowed users to send messages to their near and dear ones in a much faster and safer environment. They no longer had the necessity to stay online to send or receive messages.
Besides, mobile phones hardly supported internet back in the day; that is, until Apple mastermind Steve Jobs launched the world’s most influential device, the iPhone, in 2007.
While the AOL Instant Messenger platform is being formally shut down later this year, the company had already started laying off employees as early as 2012. With lack of revenue and an inability to keep up with the evolving technology landscape where users demand apps rather than software, the majority of the staff had to be seen off to reduce running costs and stay afloat in the market.
Yahoo & AOL Instant Messenger Now Work Together
Later, one of the top cellular service providers in the United States, Verizon, came forward to purchase AOL for a massive sum of $4.4 billion in May 2015. They didn’t stop there though—within a short period, they also acquired the next big competitor, Yahoo, which is another dying company from the 1990s.
From there, Verizon merged with both entities to form a new division named Oath. They are working on innovative, fresh ideas which are currently under wraps but expected to be unveiled when they’re ready.
AOL cut AIM’s support for third-party chat clients in March of this year, eventually hinting at a shutdown. Yahoo closed its chat messenger but later reopened it as a Windows 10 app, which will remain running at least for now. MSN Messenger, another age-old messaging app, was completely shut down in 2014 to pave the way for WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to take center stage.
With just months to go before the official farewell, AOL Instant Messenger is not just a service but an icon that represents the whole cultural era comprising of slow internet, modems and online relationships that, collectively, is coming to an end.