After 20 years on the market, AOL will discontinue AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) as of December 15, 2017. To that, we say, AOL Instant Messenger RIP. Rest in Peace.
Why is AIM being eliminated? One big reason is the growth of chat and other messaging services. As a result, AIM is obsolete. Today, many companies also offer online chat for shoppers. For example, see this post. Using Live Chat Software to Enhance the Online Experience.
The Hey Day of AIM
In looking back at 1997, keep these factors in mind. The Internet was in its infancy. E-mail was emerging. There was no chat software. People connected with modems, not through broadband. The opportunity for the new service of “instant messaging” was enormous. Enter AIM.
“Initially, the chat experience was built into AOL desktop. AIM launched as a standalone app in 1997. Its iconic Away Messages were the ancestor to modern tweets and status updates. It battled for supremacy with ICQ and messengers from Yahoo and Microsoft MSN.”
“For many of us, AIM conjures up memories of dial-up modems, the sound of a ‘handshake’, and the phrase ‘You’ve Got Mail.’ ‘AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,’ says Michael Albers, of Oath Inc., a subsidiary of Verizon that bought AOL.”
At its peak in 2001, AIM attracted 100 million subscribers. In 2017 terms, that number may seem small. Think Facebook. But in 2001, this figure was huge. And as late as 2006, AIM accounted for a 52 percent market share for instant messaging market in the United States.
Nostalgic? Watch this YouTube video.
AOL Instant Messenger RIP
In sum, Neuman notes:
“Eventually text messaging, Google’s GChat, and Facebook took over. At the same time, AIM never fully figured out the shift to mobile. That led to AOL’s fall from grace, going from being valued at $224 billion in today’s money to $4.4 billion when sold to Verizon in 2015. For context on the business AOL let slip away, WhatsApp sold that same year to Facebook for more than $19 billion.”
How low has AIM fallen? As Rani Molli reports for Recode: “As of August 2017, AIM had about 500,000 unique monthly visitors in the U.S., according to data from measurement company comScore. That doesn’t tell us exactly how many users AIM has, but it gives us a good idea of its audience.”