AOL Instant Messenger, also popularly known as AIM, is finally shutting down after 20 years of service.
The end of long-running AIM has been on the cards for some time, with AOL cutting off access to the service from third-party chat clients earlier in the year. Still, the news comes as somewhat of a shock, especially for users who started their internet experiences with it.
AIM To Shut Down
In a support page that AOL launched regarding the shutdown of AIM, the company noted that the service will be discontinued on Dec. 15, 20 years after it was launched in 1997.
"AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed," wrote Michael Albers, the VP of Communications, Product of Oath, the Verizon unit that owns AOL. The company will now focus on "the next generation" of products, which simply means that AIM is outdated, and we all need to move on from it.
No replacement product has been announced for AIM, which will have its download links removed before Dec. 15 but at an unspecified date.
The @aim.com email addresses of users will not be affected by the shutdown, but what will be deleted alongside the departure of AIM are the organized contacts, known as the Buddy List, of users, as well as all their data associated with the service. Users, however, still have a chance to save the images and files shared in AIM until its last day, along with their chat logs.
What We Can All Learn From AIM
AIM was the best messaging app during its prime and was used by children all the way up to executives. It turned the internet into a social space compared to being only a utility to acquire information. In addition, it was considered to be a very simple program, with streamlined features that made it easy to use and without too many things going on at the same time.
However, when the smartphone era started with Apple's launch of the iPhone, users shifted away from communicating using their computers to using mobile devices. AIM may have capitalized on the changing trend using its brand, but it failed to do so and has since been eclipsed by other apps such as Facebook Messenger and Twitter.
Millions of users created memories on AIM, but with the rapid pace of technology, companies should not bank on their previous successes and aggressively develop their products, or they will see themselves as the next generation's AOL and AIM.