Home Popular instant messaging service ICQ to shut down after 28 years

Popular instant messaging service ICQ to shut down after 28 years


  • Iconic messaging platform ICQ to shut down permanently in June.
  • No detailed explanation provided, recommends VK Messenger as alternative.
  • Despite its peak popularity, ICQ's decline followed changes in internet technology and competition.

The iconic instant messaging platform ICQ has declared that it will cease operations permanently in June.

A brief notice on its website reads, “ICQ will stop functioning from June 26,” offering no further details, and recommends VK Messenger as a substitute.

That being said, the official account posted a GIF on X on May 24, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator” with the caption “I’ll be back.” This was their first post since 2022.

ICQ, which stands for “I Seek You” and was launched in 1996, had nine million users and 2.5 million daily active users at its peak. The number was considered remarkable given that users relied on dial-up connections.

AOL purchased the company from Israeli developer Mirabilis in 1998 for $407 million, creating competition in the messaging market as Yahoo! and Microsoft launched their own services. Despite operating independently from AOL and facing issues with problematic users, ICQ managed to amass 100 million users.

However, with the decline of dial-up Internet and the emergence of new competitors, ICQ’s popularity dwindled.

In 2010, the Russian company Mail.Ru, which later rebranded as VK, acquired ICQ due to its popularity in Russia and planned to update the app for cross-platform use.

The image displays ICQ mobile app features, emphasizing its capability for group audio and video calls, voice messages, and channels with group chats and bots. The screenshots show various users interacting through these features, highlighting the app's versatility and modern communication tools.
ICQ mobile app before it went offline in March 2023

As of a March 2023 snapshot from the Internet Archive, the updated version of ICQ functioned similarly to other messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram. However, the app is no longer available in Apple’s App Store or on Google’s Play Store.

Supporters are calling for the return of ICQ

Following the announcement, users expressed their support for the service on X, with some saying they have been using the program “religiously” for decades. Others shared stories of meeting their significant others through ICQ.

A new version of the program was launched in 2020, but it appeared to have been neglected in the years since. According to a Techspot report, the most recent stable desktop version was released in April 2023, while the mobile versions have been discontinued in favor of the current owner VK’s own messaging system.

Featured image: Ideogram

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Suswati Basu
Tech journalist

Suswati Basu is a multilingual, award-winning editor and the founder of the intersectional literature channel, How To Be Books. She was shortlisted for the Guardian Mary Stott Prize and longlisted for the Guardian International Development Journalism Award. With 18 years of experience in the media industry, Suswati has held significant roles such as head of audience and deputy editor for NationalWorld news, digital editor for Channel 4 News and ITV News. She has also contributed to the Guardian and received training at the BBC As an audience, trends, and SEO specialist, she has participated in panel events alongside Google. Her…

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