At the end of April I wrote an article compiling 10 super old programs that are still working. Among them I mentioned the messenger ICQwhich was quite popular in Brazil in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, the famous and nostalgic messaging program’s days are numbered.

In what can be described as the end of an era for many veteran internet usersthe company responsible for the service officially announced that, within approximately one month, more precisely on the day June 26th, ICQ will no longer be operational. This news was communicated to the public last Friday, May 24, and caused a mixture of surprise and nostalgia in the hearts of those who followed his trajectory.

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Almost 30 years of operation

Through a statement on the official ICQ website, the company suggested that current users look for alternatives on platforms belonging to the VK group, a digital conglomerate originating from Russia. It is worth highlighting that it was precisely this group that acquired ICQ from the American company AOL in 2010in an attempt to revitalize the platform that was already showing signs of fatigue in the face of technological advances.

Remembering its beginnings, the ICQ emerged in 1996, almost three decades ago, developed by an Israeli company at a time when the concept of “application” as we know it today had not yet become popular. In those early years of the commercial internet, terms like “software” or “program” were the fashionable expressions to describe the tools used by Internet users.

Although it fell into oblivion in many parts of the world, including Brazil, ICQ experienced a brief period of renaissance when smartphones began to spread globally. During this renewal phase, ICQ even experienced a slight burst of popularity, especially as VK invested in developing dedicated apps for Android and iPhone, taking advantage of the remaining fame it still enjoyed in Russia and other parts of the world.

However, despite these efforts, in 2022, the ICQ registered only 11 million active users per month — a significantly smaller number when compared to WhatsApp’s colossal user base, which had 2 billion monthly active people in the same period.

ICQ’s decline is not recent

RIP ICQ |  BetaNews

However, it is worth noting that the decline in ICQ usage is not a recent phenomenon. The platform began to lose ground many years ago. And honestly, it’s even a surprise that it’s still operational after so long. Initially, ICQ lost space to competitors such as MSN Messenger (which is no longer with us) and Skype, which also fell into ostracism.

Subsequently, the advent and expansion of social networks, exemplified by Facebookwhich not only allow you to see publications from friends but also enable instant interactions, contributed to the decline in popularity of classic messengers.

Additionally, services such as WhatsApp and iMessage, which offer free messaging using the user’s cell phone number, have become even greater obstacles for ICQ.

However, in a darker episode in ICQ’s recent history, in 2023, a website called Core published a report revealing that the program was being used in Brazil as a means of sharing child pornography. A few months after these revelations, Brazilian judicial authorities requested the suspension of ICQ, claiming that the company was not cooperating sufficiently with investigations.

This sad chapter contributed even more to eclipse the legacy of what was once an icon of global virtual communication. Now ICQ will only have 1 more month to live before it is shut down completely. Time is relentless…

Sources: PCMag e TechSpot


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