ICQ is shutting down after almost 28 years

ICQ, a pioneering instant messenger, is shutting down after almost 28 years.

: ICQ, an early instant messaging service, will cease operations on June 26, as announced by its owner, Russian company VK. Originally launched in 1996 by Mirabilis and later sold to AOL, ICQ was notable for features like offline messaging and using numbers instead of names for user IDs. Despite its decline in popularity, ICQ persisted until VK decided to discontinue it, urging users to switch to other messaging platforms.

ICQ, one of the first instant messaging services that launched in 1996, is officially shutting down after nearly 28 years. The announcement was made by VK, the Russian company that has managed ICQ since acquiring it from Digital Sky Technologies in 2010. ICQ had a unique approach to connectivity, assigning numbers to users instead of names or email addresses, which differentiated it from competitors like AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger.

Over the years, ICQ introduced several innovative features such as the ability to send SMS messages and communicate with others even when they were offline. These features helped ICQ grow to achieve over 100 million registered users by 2001. The iconic 'Uh oh!' notification sound became a cultural reference for users during its peak popularity. However, despite its early success, ICQ's user base dwindled as newer messaging services like WhatsApp and Telegram emerged.

The closure of ICQ marks the end of an era for one of the internet's early communication tools. Although the app had been removed from major app stores for months and seemed to have been inactive, VK's official announcement confirms the definitive end of the service. Users are encouraged to transition to other VK-owned messaging solutions, marking a significant shift in the digital communication landscape where newer platforms continue to dominate the market.