Dear Y!M… Your memories will linger on!


Come July 17’ 2018, and the world will witness the end of an Era as one of the first instant messaging service, Yahoo Messenger, shuts down on July 17. However, the Yahoo Messenger service can be used normally until next month. Moreover, those who wish to download their Yahoo Messenger chat history can still do so for the next 6 months by going to the downloader request site. After July 17, the messenger as well as its services will no longer work and the users will not be able to access the chats and other features associated with it. The announcement was made on the Yahoo website which also advised its users to delete their Yahoo Messenger app once they have downloaded their chat history. According to Yahoo, the shutdown focuses on building and introducing new, exciting communications tools that better fit consumer needs. The Yahoo team is currently experimenting with new services and apps, including an invite-only group messaging app called Yahoo Squirrel. In fact, Yahoo started testing Squirrel last month. The announcement also made it clear that the shutdown of Yahoo Messenger will not affect one’s Yahoo ID as it can still be used for other Yahoo products.

Yahoo Messenger made its debut as Yahoo Pager on March 9, 1998 as an alternative to email and SMS on basic mobile devices. The iconic rebranding done on June 21, 1999 made the Yahoo Messenger a rage throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. It instantly became very popular among Indian users then. Yahoo! Messenger probably became as one of the first touchpoints for users with this thing called Instant Messaging. With all new features back then, Y!M endeared to hundreds of millions of people who used its services on their basic mobile handsets. In the years since, Yahoo enjoyed a good success with Yahoo Messenger on mobile. It was a period where Facebook, WhatsApp and other messaging giants did not exist or were in their infancy stages. YM emerged out not only as a tool for communication but also replaced the old-fashioned telephonic conversations or handwritten letters and notes. Some of the noteworthy features that Yahoo Messenger offered to its users were:

  • Stealth/offline mode – this used to be one of the best features of the YM where one can log into their YM account as invisible to everyone, by choice. This also enabled the user to check if a person of his/her interest is whether online or offline (“Sign in as invisible to everyone”, it read)
  • Online status with hyperlinks – users were able to customize their status to their liking.
  • Buzz – generally used to alert an idle user, the buzz feature was an instant hit when people used to buzz too much in between conversations just for the sake of fun. The feature used to cause a buzzing sound and the screen to shake.
  • Unique username – In those days, usernames were deliberately odd, derived from fairy tales, cartoons, anime, numbers etc.
  • Avatars – One could customize the digital representations in the form of avatars and use it as their display picture.
  • Multiple windows – users enjoyed opening multiple windows to manage several conversations going on conveniently at the same time.
  • Themes and customization – different coloured skins, fonts, and size and so on was something that only people who grew up with the Yahoo Messenger in the 90s would understand.
  • Doodles and IM environments – They were interactive and fun for the countless of hours we spent on Yahoo Messenger.

However, like other services in that first generation of messaging, Messenger’s role and functions were swiftly surpassed by huge domination by other mobile-based services, and specifically mobile messaging apps like Google Talk, Facebook, WhatsApp, iMessage. Yahoo tried to revive its Messenger service by updating its Android and iOS apps. This updated look brought a completely new design, and many new features. The most notable among them was the Unsend feature, which allowed users to retrace their footsteps and undo sending messages. Unfortunately, Yahoo Messenger failed to make a mark in the user consciousness as the new advanced communication mediums continued to forge ahead in the mobile era, leaving behind desktop-first software such as the Yahoo app and Google Hangouts.

For record, telecommunication giant Verizon’s subsidiary Oath (which also owns TechCrunch) also shut down AIM, AOL’s equivalent messaging app, in October. And within six months, comes the news of Yahoo Messenger going into oblivion. And with this, we can definitely say that the first age of IM will be gone forever.

All those who had ever used YM probably feel a little sad knowing that after a month, their once favourite classic chat application Yahoo Messenger will be gone forever. But the countless memories you leave behind will never be forgotten. Do you have any memories of your YM days? Let us know down in the comments section below!