AOL Instant Messenger to WhatsApp to ???
I grew up using MSN / Windows Live Messenger to talk with my friends. While the application itself hasn’t prospered, it’s intentions have.
Throughout the years, different messengers have risen and fallen, but the concept has always been the same. Connect the world.
Here are some messaging platforms that have risen and fallen over the years (some of these messengers date back to the mid-90's.)
MSN / Windows Live Messenger
AOL Instant Messenger (AIM)
Yahoo! Pager (Now called Yahoo! Messenger)
Note: WhatsApp, the app Facebook bought for $16 billion, is essentially what these platforms worked on in the mid-90s — messaging over the Internet.
In the end, they are all trying to connect people from all over the world. So if the concept has always been the same, why weren’t any of these apps able to adapt and prosper?
The messaging apps of the past revolved around simplicity. You could connect with people, but only send them text based messages.
I know younger people may be horrified when they hear this, but there were no pictures, emojis, videos, filters, or anything like that.
It was just good ole’ fashion text-based communication.
These messengers were based on the premise that conversations could be converted from face-to-face or over the phone, to virtual communications.
This concept was groundbreaking, and these messengers laid the foundation for the way we communicate today.
So why weren’t these companies able to adapt and remain king?
Believe it or not, but the companies behind these platforms didn’t seem to believe they were the future.
“AIM was never really embraced by AOL because of the innovator’s dilemma, what I call the cash cow dilemma,”
- Barry Appelman (Creator of AOL Instant Messenger)
Boy, were they wrong.
The messaging app we currently use have risen to popularity by sweeping us away with waves of new technology.
Here are some of the messaging apps crushing it today:
These are just a few of the apps that have risen to popularity. There are hundreds more other than those.
When you look back, most of the apps today have the same primary functions the messaging platforms in the 90’s had.
The difference now is you can use filters, pictures, video, emojis, and more. Messaging as a whole has become an entirely customizable process.
Customization is crucial because communication is unique. The more things you can customize, the more you can express yourself.
Self expression and communication go hand-in-hand.
So the question becomes, will these apps be able to adapt for the future, or will they perish like the messaging platforms of the past?
“Messaging's future will hinge on new and innovative ways to customize communication methods.”
- Peter Schroeder (Founder of UNUM messenger)
People’s ability to customize and better express what they feel will continue to pave the way for messaging.
Whether the current messaging apps can be the ones to do this remains to be seen. Most of them are still relatively new, so we will have to wait and see if they can maintain their relevance.
Another thing we will see more of is unification. With hundreds of messaging options, there will be an app to bring all the communication platforms together.
By unifying all of the messaging platforms people use, they will be able to prioritize and manage all of their conversations quickly.
Customization and unification is the future of messaging.
Messaging is never going to go away. It is a part of our past, present, and future.
It will always continue to be slightly modified, and those modifications have enormous impacts on the way people communicate.
The platform which allows people express themselves is the one that will take the crown every single time.
Want to see the future of messaging?
Hacker Noon is how hackers start their afternoons. We’re a part of the @AMI family. We are now accepting submissions and happy to discuss advertising & sponsorship opportunities.
If you enjoyed this story, we recommend reading our latest tech stories and trending tech stories. Until next time, don’t take the realities of the world for granted!