Instant Messaging Will Continue Just Fine Without AIM

AOL Instant Messenger will be dead before the end of 2017. Yet, instant messages have succeeded far beyond what anyone could have envisioned for either SMS (Short Message Service, carried by the phone company) or AOL, which arguably brought instant messaging to regular computers starting in 1997.

It would be wonderful to claim that there’s some great significance in the passing of AIM. However, my guess is that there simply wasn’t any business benefit to maintaining ia service that nearly nobody used. The AIM service was said to carry far less than 1% of all instant messages across the Internet… and that was in 2011.

I have an AIM account, and although it’s linked into my Apple Messages client, I had completely forgotten about it, though there was a little flurry of news back in March 2017, when AOL began closing APIs and shutting down some third-party AIM applications. Then, on Oct. 6, came the email from AOL’s new corporate overload, Oath, a subsidiary of Verizon:

Dear AIM user,

We see that you’ve used AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) in the past, so we wanted to let you know that AIM will be discontinued and will no longer work as of December 15, 2017.

Before December 15, you can continue to use the service. After December 15, you will no longer have access to AIM and your data will be deleted. If you use an @aim.com email address, your email account will not be affected and you will still be able to send and receive email as usual.

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 hearts. As we move forward, all of us at AOL (now Oath) are excited to continue building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products for users around the world.

You can visit our FAQ to learn more. Thank you for being an AIM user.

Sincerely,

The AOL Instant Messenger team

Interestingly, my wife, who also has an AIM account but never uses it, thought that the message above was a phishing scam of some sorts.

So, AIM is dead. But not instant messaging, which is popular for both consumers and business users, and for desktop/notebooks and smartphones. There are so many clients that consumers can use; according to Statistica, here are the leaders as of January 2017, cited in millions of active monthly users. AIM didn’t make the list.

Then there are the corporate instant message platforms, such as Slack, Lync, and Symphony. And we’re not even talking social media, like Twitter, Google+, Kik, and Instagram.

So – Instant messaging is alive and well. AIM was the pioneer, but it ceased being relevant a long, long time ago.