AOL Instant Messenger is finally saying "goodbye" to its fans and users.
The iconic AIM service, started in 1997, will be shutting down on December 15. Oath, the new name for AOL after parent Verizon bought Yahoo earlier this year, gave no official word on why the service was ending, other than a cryptic statement on a newly posted FAQ page: "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."
The AOL team also emailed users with a bit more of a personal note:
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.
The company said no replacement is planned. Users will be able to still use their old aol.com email addresses, but all date and contacts will be deleted when the service shuts down.
AOL originally launched the service as part of its desktop program, but eventually spun it off into its own product. It weathered a storm of competitors such as ICQ, Yahoo and MSN, but eventually felt the weight of apps like Google's GChat, Facebook and Twitter, and technology that had text messaging built into phones.
Prior to Verizon buying Yahoo, the wireless carrier purchased AOL for $4.4 billion in 2015.
AOL had cut off third-party app access to AIM back in February, a source had told Ars Technica at the time that the messaging service had lost millions of users, speculating that it had dropped into the "single digit millions," and that maintaining the proprietary OSCAR chat protocol was becoming cost prohibitive.
The service did withstand a massive layoff back in 2012. But now, the messaging is on the wall, and old-school users have only a couple more months before signing off for good.