Do you remember ICQ (“I Seek You”)? It was one of the first desktop download chat applications and was sold to AOL for $400 million in 1998. Strangely, it fell off the map after the acquisition, but has since resurfaced as a type of community-based social network that leverages Facebook and Twitter. We take a look below.
ICQ has expanded its range to include a community based web page that allows you to log in, view your friends information, chat and customize your profile. For all intents and purpose, it is a new social network. That said, the latest version of the desktop ICQ client introduced the ability to integrate your Facebook and Twitter. After connecting your client to Facebook using a web-based Facebook Connect, you’re able to see Facebook and Twitter stream updates no matter where you are on the site.
One of the problems was that ICQ would not connect with Facebook properly unless I gave it full access to Facebook wall posts as well, which would effectively allow ICQ to post any updates onto my Facebook wall. This demonstrates a lack of understanding of users that would leverage Facebook Connect, because some of the users may not want to share everything between the two networks. ICQ would be a good tool to create a secondary network and read updates from Facebook, but their strict permissions settings make this impossible.
One interesting note is that even though I haven’t used ICQ in almost ten years, and was a user of the desktop client, I was able to login to their new community based website, and the site remembered my user information. My old friends list was also available, which would be great if a single one from the 136 had also returned (they hadn’t). That said, browsing friends’ profiles made it clear why ICQ is still a work-in-progress. I had almost no options when viewing my friends profile, I couldn’t write on their wall or even send them a message very easily, and the only option was to “write a note about the contact”. A small chat button was available, but upon clicking it downloaded a file called “cmd.php”. Unless that is a new type of chat I haven’t heard about, the site left me severely unfulfilled.
Overall, you can skip ICQ for your social networking needs this time around. Stick with Facebook, or use a tool like Meebo that aggregates many services including ICQ, and does it better than ICQ, although you’d be missing out on the famous “Uh-Oh!” sound.