Volume 94, Issue 68

Wednesday, January 24, 2001


For your pleasure

Snatch sure isn't The Vagina Monologues


Rage's swan song superior


Every student has three numbers memorized: Their student number, their phone number and their ICQ number.

With close to 90 million users worldwide, ICQ has become one of the most popular messenger services available on the Internet. Developed in July 1996 by four Israeli students, ICQ has been the most popular download at Download.com for the past three years, with over 100 million downloads by June 2000.

If you're not actually familiar with ICQ, you've probably wondered what that incessant "uh oh" sound is that erupts from many computers connected to the Internet. ICQ is a free software program, downloadable from www.icq.com, that allows a user to communicate instantly with other users over the Internet.

The program appears as a small application on your computer, which monitors who on your personal user list is on-line. All you do is click on their name, type a clever and/or witty message and seconds later, heralded by that god awful "uh oh," your message appears on their computer.

ICQ lingo has also become one of the most butchered forms of slang to ever corrupt the English language. Words such as "coo" (cool) and "ack," (acknowledge) not to mention the numerous abreviations like "lol" (laughing out loud) and "brb" (be right back) have become the common language of ICQ junkies.

Naturally, due to the popularity of ICQ, a number of similiar programs have also been developed that are almost identical. Microsoft actually used a television campaign to market its new MSN Messenger, while other competitors like Yahoo and AOL have also developed their own programs. While they are all decent applications, what they lack is ICQ's almost terrifyingly large network of people. With close to a hundred million users registered, there's a good chance many of your friends are already users.

Still, how does a product free to download make any money? The only visible advertising on the program itself appears when you transfer a file, and even then it's often only an internal advertisement. How then, does a company acquired by America Online in June 1998 for over $287 million make any money?

Well, it's doesn't, and while rumors about subscription costs and excessive advertising have certainly spread like the plague, ICQ has remained, and is expected to remain, completely free.

–Christopher Hodge

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Copyright The Gazette 2000