1Why Oath Is Preparing to Pull Plug on Obsolete AOL Instant Messenger
In a move that signals the end of an era, Oath, the Verizon-owned company that includes the internet assets of America Online and Yahoo, announced Oct. 6 it will shut down AOL Instant Messenger Dec. 15. The move only recognizes the obvious: AIM has become irrelevant in a world dominated by mobile text messaging and social media. In that context, perhaps it’s surprising that Verizon didn’t shut down AIM immediately after acquiring AOL in May 2015. AIM was one of the most important online services of the 1990s, the height of the dial-up modem era. Many of today’s internet users came of age “IM’ing” each other through AOL’s service. This slide show will look back at AIM, dig into Oath’s decision and examine today’s marketplace to explain why it makes sense that AIM is about to offline forever.
2A Look Back at AIM
AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) started in the 1990s as a feature in AOL Desktop, which included the AOL browser, AIM and a media player. It became a standalone desktop application in 1997 as people moved to broadband and abandoned the AOL dial-up service. AIM even became a mobile solution in 2008, but its popularity has since waned.
3AIM Peaks in the Early 2000s
AIM gained popularity in the mid-1990s, but achieved its greatest success in the latter part of the decade and early 2000s. It’s estimated that more than 50 percent of U.S. internet users were using AIM to communicate, making it the most popular chatting option at the time. Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger were more popular in other countries.
4Mobile Connectivity Overtakes AIM
By the mid-2000s, AIM lost much of its appeal to customers. New chatting applications were introduced that took advantage of newer web technologies, and users increasingly turned to mobile devices to text friends and family. Social networks also presented new opportunities to connect. Competition from mobile and social applications proved to be AIM’s biggest issues as its popularity waned.
5Mobile AIM Fails to Catch On
6Competitors Close Shop
7Why Oath Decided to Pull the Plug
Why did Oath finally decide to shut down AIM? It likely comes down to money. Oath is the result of Verizon’s merger with AOL and Yahoo. Oath is tasked with cutting the fat out of both those operations and contributing profits to Verizon. AIM was likely viewed as a low-value service that cost the company too much, leading to the decision.
8What Happens to the Buddy List?
9What Happens to All That Chat Data?
10AIM Email Service, Addresses Live On
11Alternatives for Users
With AIM dying Dec. 15, some users are wondering where to go next. Built-in chatting apps such as Apple’s iMessage are good alternatives, as are some outstanding third-party chatting apps including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Signal. There is no shortage of messaging apps today and many of them work well.