20 Years Of History ICQ From Rapid Growth And Sale To AOL Audience Loss And Transactions With Mail.Ru Group

In 1995, when the “dotcom bubble” was 5 years, four Israeli high school students Arik Vardi, SEFI Vigiser, Yair Goldfinger and Amnon Amir created a simple “instant messenger” to communicate with each other. According to their idea, the program should be undemanding to computer resources. The father of the ICQ co-founder Arik Vardi and investor Yossi Vardi. Initially, the program had no name, until someone suggested to call it the first letters of the phrase I seek you (“I seek you”).

A little refining this idea, the founder decided to name his development of ICQ. In November 1996 he founded the company Mirabilis, which announced that ICQ is free to download. In the same year the service gained its first million users. The first version was very simple and supported only text messages.

Users to connect to the UDP port 4000 of the server icq.mirabilis.com. In December 1997, the clients ICQ for Windows 3.1 x, Windows 95, Windows NT, and Macintosh. By the time the service was used by over 5 million people, the daily audience was 1.3 million people, and at the same time the network was more than 300 thousand users. In 1998, to ICQ every three weeks connected 1 million new users — developers had to work hard, that the server is not dropped under load, and to change the Protocol.

In the second half of 1990-ies Corporation, AOL was interested in expanding the audience of his messenger AIM, which was embedded in the browser Netscape Navigator. The program was used by 10 million people, but not all of them were active, because every registered user of AOL automatically become a user of messenger AIM. In 1997-1998, AOL began to follow closely the product of the young Israeli company Mirabilis.

By the time ICQ was on the rise, gaining new users, opened a special server for corporate clients, ranked first on download on Download.com. In 1998, AOL bought the service for $407 million. Among the other contenders for the purchase of ICQ and Microsoft was. She tried to buy the messaging Protocol and the company itself separately, but unsuccessfully — the company refused to conclude such a deal.

For the period 1998-2005 had a Golden time ICQ messenger gained momentum, and by 2005 it has registered 500 million users. To the 1999 version of ICQ 99a appeared familiar to today function. A history of the conversations, contacts list, search for users, send messages to e-mail. In ICQ version 99b appeared data encryption, which was introduced in the fourth version of the Protocol service.

The sixth version of the Protocol and the program ICQ 2000b data encryption has been improved, the program learned to call and send messages to mobile phones. In 2002, AOL has patented the OSCAR Protocol, which is a long time used ICQ. Another milestone was the release of the first ICQ client for mobile devices based on the Symbian S60 operating system.

The first mobile ICQ development dates back to 1998, when he tested the beta version for Palm OS. In the fifth version of the desktop client appeared ICQ voice message. A decade later, this function appeared in many instant messengers and social networks. WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, VK.

The segment of programs for instant messaging has become attractive on the market has an unofficial ICQ clients — the software Miranda, QIP, Adium, Jimm, who used the Protocol of the service and offered users the same or better functionality but without the ads. The program QIP is one of the most popular alternative clients ICQ. AOL was struggling with this standard but ineffective methods — she changed the ICQ Protocol, making it impossible to use the service of third-party clients.

But the developers quickly resolved this issue. Another blow to the ICQ was the development of social networks. In 2003 MySpace came in 2004 — Facebook. They gave users the ability to communicate with each other.

Given that the speed of the Internet and the power of computers grew, by the time the main advantage of ICQ laid down by the founders — a small requirements to Internet speed and computer power — has ceased to play a defining role for users. Another competitor ICQ was Skype, which focused on the ability to make voice and video calls. A few years later, in 2012, voice calls added in ICQ.

Due to the increased competition in the market position of the service has deteriorated. At the end of 2000-ies AOL tried to keep users. In July 2008, the company changed the configuration of your servers, which for some time were not allowed to run third-party programs with the Protocol of ICQ. In December of the same year was made the last change on the server that made use ICQ on other platforms impossible.

December 29, the press service of ICQ spread the message, which called the use of third-party programs “dangerous”. C January 21, 2009, ICQ servers started blocking all unofficial clients in the CIS. Despite attempts to save AOL status, ICQ continued to lose users. In 2010, the service was redeemed by the Fund of Alisher Usmanov and Yuri Milner of Digital SkyTechnologies over 187 million dollars.

It is by 54% less than AOL paid for ICQ in 1998. In September 2010, the service became part of the Mail.ru Group. According to holding monthly audience of ICQ from December 2009 to December 2010 decreased by 35% — to 33.5 million people. Originally Mail.ru Group planned to merge messeneger “Agent Mail.Ru” and ICQ — this is reported by sources of the newspaper “Vedomosti”.

After buying the DST service continued to lose audience. In September 2012 Mail.Ru Group released a report showing that from June 2011 to June 2012 the service has lost a third of the users — their number has fallen from 30.8 million to 20.5 million people. In 2014, the popularity of the service continued to fall — in 2013 he lost 30% of the audience, the number of users has fallen to 11 million, among which 6.7 million were from Russia. So changed the desktop client ICQ from 1996 to 2015.

Big changes began in ICQ c 2014 — then the new version of the Protocol and the updated program with a new user interface for desktop and mobile platforms. In 2015, it became known that Mail.Ru Group focuses on the development of ICQ instead of “Agent Mail.Ru”. In early 2016 in ICQ appeared open public chat. Their peculiarity is that they are designed for a large audience — up to 10 thousand people.

In March 2016 the ICQ source code is published in open access on GitHub. In the same month, the ICQ team told about the results of the competition for the redesign of the service. The winner was Denis Noises, which proposed to introduce into service several new formats. Short video messages, “baldati”, “pulse” — a stream of broadcasts with reference to places, topics and events.

In April Mail.Ru Group announced plans to add messenger smart bots, and in June the ICQ app for Android included in the list of the best Russian apps on Google. In recent months, the messenger appeared even more functions. In July introduced the analogue of the “burning” of public messages from Snapchat, in August there was a photo editor and videos like Snapchat and image processing using neural networks with Vinci in September has effects similar to the masks from MSQRD. The ICQ team announced vc.ru that now actively use ICQ 11 million people.

Thus, according to the company, an increasing proportion of mobile users. Basically, its a new audience that doesnt know what is ICQ. The main inflow is observed from Russia, CIS, Brazil, Middle East countries. ***.

Experts told vc.ru why, in their opinion, at the turn of the decades, ICQ failed and whether the service once again become popular. ICQ actually received a “second birth”, because now its a new product that we have completely changed over the past two years. Rewrote application code, moved to a new Protocol, opened the source code to users, has introduced the voice recognition system, neural networks, function fastracking and a large number of other possibilities. Now this modern messenger with advanced technology and native title.

First of all, I want to congratulate all with the feast — after all, ICQ is a beautiful story from our youth. At the end of 2000s the product was of terrible quality, is sticking out from all the cracks were spam, the distribution itself was a great size. QIP were chewing on him.

ICQ it is necessary to develop new niches. To dream that tomorrow throw WhatsApp or Viber and go back to ICQ — naive. If you learn to meet the needs that may rise. For example, a huge scope in the enterprise market.

Moreover, it is a commercial for these products pay. ICQ for me not only nostalgic abbreviation, but an important stage in the history of technology for millions of people, messenger became the first means of communication on the Internet and the first mobile app in particular. In the late 2000s, the model of ICQ became the victim of several trends. Free audio calls Skype has offered a radically new communication opportunities.

Browsers and the web in General have become more powerful, gradually otuchev people to put extra programs. But more importantly, perhaps, global process. Social media turned the Internet from a corner for the special people in part of the universal world. Closed space ICQ c his rooms, and carefully invented nicknames lost world of social networks where people were called by these names, they had fresh pictures, friends and friends of friends, and the communication appeared in the context of.

Open-world most won closed world of the minority. The current ICQ no such problems — its just another ordinary messenger. It does not change the rules of communication, like Snapchat or Yik Yak, it does not again become a cultural phenomenon and a trailblazer, its interfaces are simple and faceless. Oddly enough, thats the key to its longevity.

No problem to install another instant messenger, and chat wherever you write, if the creators are not wise with the design-value contacts and communication in itself and not a space where this happens. Having a decent audience base, ICQ may be a long time — especially since billions of people still undecided, which will communicate with each other, and any such messenger will suit them.

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