AIM & ICQ to interoperate


macrumors 68030
Original poster
Aug 4, 2002
Madison, Wi
update America Online said it would allow its next version of AOL Instant Messenger to communicate with ICQ, a surprise move that will topple the long-standing barrier between the company's two popular IM services.

The ability to communicate with ICQ is a feature in AIM 5.1, a test version of the software currently available on People who download AIM 5.1 will be able to add ICQ users to their buddy lists and send them instant text messages. ICQ identities, which are typically a sequence of numbers, can be converted to nicknames by AIM users.

Users of the current version of ICQ cannot add AIM members to their buddy lists, but future versions of ICQ may let them do so, AOL said.

The decision to let AIM users add ICQ buddies is significant because it represents the first step in allowing the two largest instant messaging services, both owned by AOL, to communicate. AOL has been subject to industry criticism and federal regulatory scrutiny for its resistance to opening its IM network to outsiders.

The company has long claimed AIM and ICQ users had no interest in communicating with one another. But ICQ has a large international audience, especially in Europe, and AOL spokeswoman Anne Bentley said the test was a response to growth in AOL Europe and consumer feedback regarding the two messaging setups.

"We've removed the virtual glass wall that separates them," Bentley said.

Technically, allowing AIM and ICQ to communicate does not mean AOL is opening its instant messaging network. AIM and ICQ have been running on the same server network since 1999. AIM currently has 180 million registered user names, with 30 million users accessing the software per month, taking multiple registrations into account. ICQ has 135 million registered user names; AOL does not release the number of users who access that software per month.

Microsoft: Unfair market exploitation
Competitors and critics, most notably Microsoft, have complained to regulators that AOL's resistance to opening AIM to third parties is an unfair exploitation of its market leadership. During the review of the AOL-Time Warner merger in 2000, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates urged Federal Communications Commission officials to closely examine AOL's IM dominance. Gates also advocated the need for a standard that would let IM services interoperate.

The FCC is currently scrutinizing AOL for its IM dominance. As a condition of AOL's merger with Time Warner, the FCC ruled that AOL Time Warner must offer interoperability with outside services should it launch an "advanced IM" product. In other words, any high speed version of AIM that lets people send high quality audio and video would require AOL to open its IM network.

Calls for interoperability have faded among users in the consumer market, but they've begun to heat up among business users. Earlier this month seven top brokerage firms formally announced a coalition to promote the adoption of standards in the fragmented instant messenger industry.

Microsoft has made instant messaging a central feature in its Windows XP operating system and its MSN Internet service, and is working on a corporate-communications tool, code-named Greenwich, that will include instant messaging. Yahoo has also seen an increase in the popularity of its Yahoo Messenger software. In a sense, both Microsoft and Yahoo have benefited from the lack of interoperability because consumers end up downloading and operating multiple instant messaging clients.

AOL has also argued that developing an interoperability protocol is more difficult than it seems. In a filing to the FCC last July, AOL said it would focus fewer resources on developing a protocol to let outside servers to communicate with its setup. This server-to-server interoperability would require significant time and resources, the company said.

Instead, AOL said it would pursue marketing agreements to let companies develop their own instant messaging software based on AIM's technology and infrastructure. In the modeling of such agreements, AOL is using Apple Computer's iChat as an example.

AOL's Bentley would not consider the AIM 5.1 feature an example of server-to-server interoperability because AIM and ICQ run on the same network.

Competitors remain skeptical of AOL's moves.

"Until there's interoperability among the three leading instant messaging players--Yahoo, MSN and AOL-- this minor move really won't have a significantly positive impact on the broader (instant messaging) community," a Yahoo representative said.

A Microsoft representative did not comment.


macrumors 68030
Original poster
Aug 4, 2002
Madison, Wi
would iChat expand as well?

My first question when I read the above article was, would this mean iChat would expand into ICQ as well?
And it looks like thinks so, they wrote:

iChat future release to support ICQ network

According to several sources, the next major version of Apple's instant
messaging AIM/.Mac client will add support for the ICQ network. Like
AIM, ICQ is a very popular instant messaging service with millions of

Sources couldn't precise pin down the date for this new major update of
iChat but there are chances that it will come sooner than Panther (Mac
OS X next major upgrade).

I have never used ICQ myself, but I think this would be great.


macrumors 6502
Apr 13, 2001
i love icq - i would love to see it added to iChat... however... the interface needs to be like Proteus...

where all the chatting can be done in one window - a side drawer contains all the active people you are chatting with, and you click on a name to toggle the chatting window.



macrumors regular
Oct 29, 2002
here and there
oohh this sounds promising, I love iChat with it's bugs and faults and all so it would be great if they integrated icq too, I never cared for icq myself though but if aol and icq merge than who knows what things would change. Actually iChat can integrate all it wants, as long as it leaves out MSN messenger.!!!:cool:


macrumors 68000
May 24, 2002
'Toba, Canada
did some testing on aim 5.1 beta (for winblowz), and doesnt look like theres much icq support...but if u add an icq person to your list (their icq #) it will recognize that, but i cant seem to send im's to ppl who use icq lol


macrumors regular
Jun 4, 2002
That might not be down to AOL 5.1 issues, the whole ICQ and AIM networks have gone down a couple of times this week.
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.