The Rise and Fall of Instant Messengers [Infographic]

A timeline of the growth and decline of instant messengers.

Internet communication has come a long way since the first emails and instant messages. For many people, social networks rule the day — but how has instant messaging grown in tandem with their rise? An infographic from looks at the history of the IM.

First came ICQ, a product from Israeli company Mirabilis, which launched in 1996. ICQ was acquired by AOL in 1998, but despite being the first and oldest still operating, its user base never grew above the 50 million mark, according to the infographic.

Microsoft’s MSN messenger launched in 1999, and grew to more than 200 million by 2006, when it was rebranded as Windows Live messenger. Between 2003 and 2009, several big players — Google Talk, Skype and Whatsapp — all launched, and are still standing today.

Since AOL acquired ICQ in 1998, the instant messenger market has been dominated by mergers and acquisitions. Skype only traded for two years before it was acquired by eBay for $2.5 billion. In fact, Skype changed hands several times, before being acquired by Microsoft in 2010.

As more users went online and found free and instant communication tools, they began to take business away from traditional phone companies. Whatsapp alone cost phone companies $3.25 billion in lost text messaging fees in 2013.

To see the trajectories of all the major IM companies, view the infographic below:

instant messenger

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