Eighteen years after Yahoo rolled out one of the most popular communication services of the late 1990s and early noughties, the Yahoo Messenger, the company has finally logged out. Yahoo announced that it would shut down the older, legacy version of the software/app, in a bid to transition to the newer version it launched six months ago. Yahoo Messenger was launched in 1998 as Yahoo Pager.
In a blog post, the company said, “While today we provide basic interoperation between the legacy product and the new Messenger, we encourage all of our users to complete their transition to the new Yahoo Messenger as we will no longer support the legacy platform as of August 5, 2016. We intend to continue our focused efforts on the new Messenger, with a goal of delivering the best experience to our users.”
Yahoo’s latest version of the app is a “complete revamp” which allows users “an incredibly fast, beautiful and smart way to send—and unsend—messages, photos and animated GIFs and group conversations.”
Yahoo Messenger joins the Windows Live Messenger (or MSN Messenger in its previous avatar) among iconic ’90s softwares, making way for new-age communication apps. In the case of the Windows Live Messenger, its death was confirmed soon after Microsoft purchased Skype, the popular peer-to-peer internet telephony or VoIP calling software. Through its integration, it allowed the existing Live user to log into Skype and access its calling facilities. On a similar note, last year Google shut down its standalone Google Talk software (on Windows), forcing users to migrate to its Hangouts app. Google, however, allowed the service to function over third-party apps, available on platforms other than Windows (iOS, Android etc).
The instant messaging space has seen repeated disruption over the last decade. Six years ago, two former Yahoo! employees, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, launched WhatsApp, a mobile internet-based messaging app, which was later bought by Facebook for $19 billion in 2014. Facebook, in 2011, launched its own instant messaging app—Facebook Messenger (or now simply, Messenger)—which has evolved into the company’s flagship app which integrates several services into a solitary platform. Similarly, Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging service, was launched in 2013. The app has, however, made headlines for all the wrong reasons, given its prolific usage by Islamic State fighters for communication and propaganda purposes.
Equally growing in popularity is Slack, launched in 2013 as a workplace communication and collaboration service. Slack was last valued at $3.8 billion, after it closed a $200 million funding round in April this year. Some of Slack’s corporate customers include Nasa, LinkedIn and Spotify.
While the legacy Yahoo Messenger won’t exactly have the world brooding over its exit, Bloomberg reported that its closure could affect oil traders, who have been using the platform since its inception in 1998. The report said, “Yahoo! Inc.’s Messenger has for almost 18 years been the default communication tool for the men and women who each day move billions of dollars’ worth of crude oil and petroleum products around the planet. From Singapore to Rotterdam, daily deals are pitched, contracts negotiated and global price benchmarks assessed on the chat service, with its deep-purple color scheme punctuated by Yahoo’s trademark exclamation point and dead-eyed yellow smiley emoticon.”