Uh Oh! ICQ Is Closing Down After 27 Years

ICQ will stop working from 26 June onwards.

Cover image via Eitan Kuperman (LinkedIn)

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One of the oldest instant messaging (IM) platforms, ICQ, is closing its doors after 27 years

The once-popular instant messaging service announced its shutdown on 24 May via its website, stating that it will cease operations on 26 June.

"ICQ will stop working from June 26. You can chat with friends in VK Messenger, and with colleagues in VK WorkSpace," the message on the platform's website reads.

These alternative recommendations are part of VK, a Russian social media platform similar to Facebook and the current owner of ICQ.

ICQ is regarded as one of the earliest instant messaging services on the Internet and once dominated IM platforms in the early 2000s

ICQ's chatroom during its heydays in the early 2000s.

Image via ResearchGate

The platform, named after the phrase "I Seek You", predated other popular IM services such as AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), MSN Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger.

It was developed by a small Israeli company named Mirabilis and launched in November 1996.

Despite fierce competition, ICQ found success among early Internet adopters. In 1998, AOL acquired ICQ for an initial payment of USD287 million (RM1.3 billion), followed by an additional USD120 million (RM565 million) over three years based on performance.

By 2001, ICQ had grown to over 100 million users. VK eventually acquired ICQ in 2010 from AOL. 

Unfortunately, the rise of smartphones and social media platforms such as Facebook led to a decline in users

Users migrated to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, reducing IM's market share.

The disruption was huge as many of ICQ's competitors closed shop. Among the major IM platforms included MSN Messenger, which closed in 2014, followed by AIM in 2017, and Yahoo Messenger in 2018.

According to VK, ICQ had approximately 11 million users in 2022 and maintained popularity outside the US in countries like China, Russia and Hong Kong, which likely prolonged its existence.

The service was popular due to its unique method of user identification, which involved the use of ICQ numbers.

However, ICQ's official account on X, formerly Twitter, hinted at a possible return sometime in the future

Following the announcement, the platform's account posted two GIFs from Terminator 2, with the final post featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic line, "I'll be back."

With ICQ's closure, the era of IM platforms has officially come to an end.

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