LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — AOL Instant Messenger, the ubiquitous program that gave rise to online chat and countless abbreviations and acronyms, will be discontinued this year, its parent company Oath announced Friday.
Michael Albers, VP of Communications Product at Oath – the new company made up of Verizon, Yahoo and AOL properties – said in his announcement that the program now better known as AIM “tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed.”
“As a result, we’ve made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM effective December 15, 2017,” Albers said in his statement.
AIM was launched as a standalone app in 1997 after proving to be wildly popular within the AOL desktop program. Arguably, it was more widely used than competitors like ICQ, and messengers from Yahoo and Microsoft MSN, but usage began to slow when Google launched GChat, which was discontinued earlier this year in favor of Google Hangouts.
Facebook Messenger, and Facebook’s practice of pushing its 2 billion users to download the mobile app, all but guaranteed other chat programs’ demise.
Emails were sent to current AIM users to notify them of the pending shutdown, which will not affect @aim.com email addresses.
Albers acknowledged AIM’s place in popular culture for the past 20 years in his announcement.
“If you were a 90s kid, chances are there was a point in time when AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was a huge part of your life. You likely remember the CD, your first screen name, your carefully curated away messages, and how you organized your buddy lists,” he said in his announcement.
“Right now you might be reminiscing about how you had to compete for time on the home computer in order to chat with friends outside of school. You might also remember how characters throughout pop culture from ‘You’ve Got Mail’ to ‘Sex and the City’ used AIM to help navigate their relationships. In the late 1990’s, the world had never seen anything like it. And it captivated all of us.”