Yahoo Messenger is shutting down, 20 years after it set the instant messaging stage on fire

Yahoo Messenger is shutting down. The instant messaging service, that may be considered as the godfather of all the instant messaging services we now have access to today, will breathe its last on July 17, 2018, Oath, the Verizon-owned company that currently runs Yahoo Messenger has announced. This means, starting from July 17, users won’t be able to access or sign in to Yahoo Messenger. Users will have six months after the shutdown to download their Messenger chat history for old times’ sake. Their Yahoo user IDs will continue to work though which means you’ll still have access to Yahoo Mail, and also you can continue to use other services like Facebook where you may have signed in using it without any hassle.

The end of Yahoo Messenger isn’t surprising. The writing has been on the wall for a very long time. Yahoo Messenger, that made its debut in 1998 as Yahoo Pager, may have begun the era of instant messaging — beginning with the desktop and then transitioning on to mobile — but over the course of time a plethora of instant messaging services like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have come up. Some of which have been better. Yahoo Messenger, on the other hand, failed to evolve as quickly. There was a time when Messenger meant Yahoo Messenger. Now, every time someone mentions the term, it invariably refers to Facebook Messenger. Times have changed. Yahoo Messenger, sadly, didn’t.

“We know we have many loyal fans who have used Yahoo Messenger since its beginning as one of the first chat apps of its kind. As the communications landscape continues to change over, we’re focusing on building and introducing new, exciting communications tools that better fit consumer needs,” the company writes in a blog post.

Although the company says that it’s working on something new, it doesn’t actually have a viable replacement to Yahoo Messenger. For now. It does have Squirrel, but then, it’s no Messenger. For one, it’s currently an invite-only closed beta, and secondly, it’s a lot like Slack.

“There currently isn’t a replacement product available for Yahoo Messenger. We’re constantly experimenting with new services and apps, one of which is an invite-only group messaging app called Yahoo Squirrel (currently in beta).”

You can say that Yahoo Messenger was a runaway hit on debut. No other chat service came close. It was, in fact, the high point of Yahoo!’ dot-com era success. But as users migrated away from dedicated chat apps to social networks and mobile messaging, the market for Messenger started to dry up. The desktop version was killed off in 2016, and now, with the mobile version getting EOL, you can say that it is indeed the end of an era.

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