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After Two Decades, AOL's Instant Messenger Will Sign Off For Good On Dec. 15

It’s time to pay your respects to the pioneering service.

If you’ve been holding off on crafting the perfect away message for the past decade or so, you might want to get moving because AOL has announced that its iconic and pioneering AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) chat function will be going offline for good on Dec. 15 of this year.


Though it competed with other chat services during the internet’s nascency as a staple of modern life, AIM initially stood alone due to its inclusion as part of AOL’s short-lived heyday as the nation’s premier ISP. As broadband replaced dial-up, standalone versions of AIM proliferated among younger users as a precursor to texting and social media. The fact that messaging services were largely closed systems, meaning that messages could only be sent to and from members using the same services, ensured that since AIM was a part of the ubiquitous AOL, its position in the marketplace stayed strong through legacy customers long after the days of dial-up came and went.

However, the rise of social media and smartphones has led dedicated chat services programs like AIM down a path of obsolescence in recent years, leading to the news of the services imminent demise later this year. In providing a reason for pulling the plug, AOL’s dedicated FAQ for the service’s termination proves less than enlightening.

“We know there are so many loyal fans who have used AIM for decades; and we loved working and building the first chat app of its kind since 1997. Our focus will always be on providing the kind of innovative experiences consumers want. We’re more excited than ever to focus on building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products.”

If a lack of interest or utilization is truly the underlying cause, then the reasoning for the decision would likely only serve to satisfy a nostalgic curiosity for many anyway, so AIM seems more interested in smiling because it happened, not crying because it’s over.

Former users were quick to follow suit, chiming in with their favorite away messages on the service.

Even if you weren’t an avid AIM user, you can still wax nostalgic about a simpler time when it was slightly more difficult for people to contact you. Or you can blame AIM for the nightmare of connectivity that came about from its prevalence.

You have until Dec. 15 to choose your position.

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