End of an era: Yahoo Messenger is being shut down next month

One of the web's very first messaging tools is being shut down next month — Yahoo Messenger will be discontinued on July 17.

Yahoo made the announcement early on Friday.

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As the web has evolved, the messaging space has become dominated by quite a few apps, chief among them WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, all owned by Facebook. And with the rise of smartphones, Apple's iMessage, Message+ on Android and other apps, such as Snapchat and China's WeChat, have effectively pushed Yahoo Messenger out of the way.

Yahoo said the company will focus "on building and introducing new, exciting communications tools that better fit consumer needs."

Yahoo Messenger users interested in downloading their chat history can do so within the next six months, the company explained, following these instructions.

There is no current replacement for Messenger just yet, the company added, but it is working on a new group messaging app (in beta, currently) known as Yahoo Squirrel, which interested users can access here.

Yahoo is part of Verizon's media-centric subsidiary, Oath, which also owns AOL and several other properties, including tech website TechCrunch, Huffington Post and Engadget. Late last year, AOL said goodbye to another of the early Internet's popular messaging apps, when it shut down AIM.

Yahoo Messenger isn't even among the top 50 most used social networking apps on either iOS or Android and the company has struggled in the past to try to make its messaging apps relevant.

In 2015, under former CEO Marissa Mayer, the company unveiled Yahoo Livetext, an audio-free video messaging app to significant fanfare. However, the app never gained any traction and Yahoo killed the product less than a year later, in March 2016.

Yahoo has never publicly disclosed how many active users Yahoo Messenger had, only going so far as to say hundreds of million of people have used it over the 20-year life span of the product, according to TechCrunch. But judging by the competition, the writing was on the wall for the once-storied product.

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Facebook Messenger has more than 1.3 billion monthly active users as of September 2017. WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion monthly active users, who are sending more than 60 billion messages per day, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Facebook's 2017 fourth-quarter earnings call.

The Verizon-owned Yahoo said that the shutdown of Messenger will not affect other products, like Yahoo Mail or Yahoo Fantasy.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia