AOL announced on Friday that it will be discontinuing AOL Instant Messenger, which led to one common reaction: “AOL Instant Messenger is still around?” The once massively popular chat program’s popularity has fallen quite significantly since the rise of smartphones and social media, but it has indeed maintained some users in recent years. So how many people are currently using AIM?
AOL does not officially release this information, but it seems that the number of current AIM users is somewhere between one and four million. Back in February 2017, Ars Technica quoted a former AOL employee as saying that AIM usage was currently in the “single digit millions.” And in 2012, Business Insider reported that the number of people using AIM had declined to four million. Clearly that number would have fallen since 2012, and so the number is likely somewhere around one or two million. For comparison, in 2001, AIM had 100 million users worldwide, according to WIRED.
Times have changed since AIM was at its peak, and users have flocked to other messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger. According to TechCrunch, Facebook Messenger currently sees 70 million daily active users, and it has a total of 1.3 billion monthly users. There’s also WhatsApp, which according to The Verge boasts one billion users every day. Over the past decade, texting has increasingly taken the place of messaging programs like AIM, as has social media platforms and smartphone apps. In recent years, other chat programs like Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger have also shut down.
The decline of the desktop chat programs is something that AOL seems to have recognized for years, having laid off a lot of the AOL Instant Messenger group in 2012. They also said today that the way that people communicate online has changed.
“AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,” Michael Albers, VP of Communications Product at Oath, said in this announcement today.
AOL Instant Messenger will officially shut down on Dec. 15.