It is a sad day for fans of AIM as AOL has announced that it is pulling the plug on its pioneering instant messenger.
AOL Instant Messenger, better known as AIM, was set up in 1997 and dominated North America during the early 2000’s.
However, with new competition that includes SMS and social apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, AOL just can’t keep up and has decided to give up on the fight shutting down the service on December 15.
On their website and the AIM help page, AOL wrote:
As of December 15, 2017, AOL Instant Messenger products and services will be shut down and will no longer work.
We know there are so many loyal fans who have used AIM for decades; and we loved working and building the first chat app of its kind since 1997.
Our focus will always be on providing the kind of innovative experiences consumers want.
We’re more excited than ever to focus on building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products.
Although AOL have not yet announced whether there will be a replacement for AIM, they say there are more exciting things planned for the future.
If you are a AIM user, you will still be able to use the service until it is closed down.
Be quick downloading photos though as the app’s download links will start disappearing from today.
Unfortunately there is and will be no way to save your buddy list.
— AIM (@aim) October 6, 2017
In a heartfelt email to its customers, AOL wrote:
We’ve loved working on AIM for you.
From setting the perfect away message to that familiar ring of an incoming chat, AIM will always have a special place in our heart
The thing we will miss most though are those embarrassing sound effects…
When it was first launched, AIM was a standalone app that was built into the AOL desktop.
Known as ‘Away Messages’, these statuses were the ancestors of both tweeting and status updates on Facebook.
AIM soon got competitors such as ICQ and MSN, but it was the likes of Facebook and WhatsApp that started to take the original chat app down.
Unfortunately AIM just never figured out how to make their app work on mobile and so they fell from grace.
Originally valued at $224 billion in today’s money, AOL was sold for just $4.4 billion when it was sold to Verizon in 2015.
In contrast WhatsApp sold that same year to Facebook for over $19 billion.
Back in March, a former AOL employee told Ars Technica:
In the years since, the frail network of old back-end code was likely never rewritten and as people retired from the company or were forced out they had to let functionality go.
The same employee also estimated that AIM usage had dropped to single-digit millions of users and that the cost was becoming too high to justify.
The announcement is bittersweet for the millions of people that used what can be described as the first instant messenger app of its kind.
Farewell AIM, you will never be forgotten.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.