Does Anyone Use AIM AOL Instant Messenger Anymore? | Fanboys Anonymous

Does Anyone Use AIM AOL Instant Messenger Anymore?

Posted by Anthony Mango Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Back when I was in middle school and high school, everyone had an AOL screen name and used the AIM instant messaging service. Your screen name was an identifier of what you liked and how funny or interesting you could be. The number of friends on your buddy list showed how popular you were and your placement on those buddy lists meant how well you were liked by that particular person. Literally everyone who was around the age of a teenager and even older used AIM.

But nothing lasts forever, and AIM seems to have died out the way Xanga and MySpace did before it.

Death of AIM logo guy yellow person character AOL Instant Messenger buddy list

While MySpace killed Xanga and Facebook killed MySpace, what exactly happened to AOL's extremely popular instant messenger, considering it had virtually no legitimate competition? It certainly isn't Trillian or any of the other chat services out there. Why isn't anyone using it anymore?

There are two things to blame: Facebook and cell phones.

With the combination of AIM and MySpace, both had a separate function. MySpace had its bulletins, comments and inbox, but it was much harder to carry on a real-time conversation with someone through this. How many times do you really feel like reloading your page? AIM was the solution to that as it allowed you to just flat out talk to people as if you were in the same room. None of the wait for emails, all of the privacy of the normal inbox without having to go through and delete messages later on.

Facebook's notification system for wall posts, combined with its real-time chat for inbox messages puts a huge damper on that. Now, you don't need two different things to accomplish the same task. Cell phones were not abundant at the time that AIM was popular and they certainly couldn't do much more than simply acting as phones, unlike today.

In comparison to that time frame, you can hardly find someone who uses AIM, but its difficult to find someone who doesn't have text messaging on their phones—even older people, who weren't using AIM before. If you couple that with how Facebook's notifications can be sent directly to your phone, you've gotten rid of every single purpose for AIM.

That is the problem that AIM is unable to get around. They have no purpose anymore. Trillian (and to a lesser extent, AIM) has tried to incorporate other services into their notification system such as Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, LinkedIn and Skype. But considering how the big guns are already covered with cell phone text messages and Facebook itself and those other services are a lot easier to use on the actual websites rather than AIM, this doesn't make much of a difference.

It doesn't help, either, that AIM seems to have a lot of problems and has developed uglier interfaces over time. I, for one, still use an old version of AIM for this reason and if it weren't for the ability to use Facebook chat within the program as well as my preference for this particular interface instead of the Facebook one, I would have stopped a long time ago. I'm obviously not using it because all of my friends's a ghost town.

Do you still use AIM, Trillian, Yahoo Messenger or any of these other old programs? Why or why not?


Tony Mango is the founder, editor-in-chief, head writer and podcast host of Fanboys Anonymous as well as all other A Mango Tree branches including Smark Out Moment. He is a pundit, creative director/consultant, fiction writer and more. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.