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One of the biggest changes with the messaging application IMO happened this year, when it announced that it would cut its association with third party networks like AIM, Facebook, Yahoo and Google.

Instead, it has focused its features on emulating the Skype like audio and video calling feature. To their credit, they gave everyone a fair warning so that they could download their chat logs. In the end, though, they cut access to all the outside services. According to one of their founders, former Google employee Harik Georges, the shift in focus has nothing to do with any immediate pressure to compete and rake in revenue. The general goal is to have as many users as possible. More specifically, the changes come from the headaches that the company’s developers have had in writing software that supports third party communications effectively.

The troubles began in 2014, when, without any warnings; Skype suddenly began blocking IMO accessing their network. Naturally, IMO’s customers thought it was IMO’s fault and so the company shouldered much of the blame. Additionally, other third party services work on IMO, just not as well as they possibly could. For instance, IMO users cannot update their statuses on Google Hangouts, ending up looking like they are offline all the time. Facebook also treats third party apps differently and this has resulted in messages going undelivered for IMO’s users. This has been frustrating, but looking into the future, things looked even bleaker. Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Viber and Line do not allow any access from third party applications at all. With this in mind, IMO decided to consolidate. It was decided that the third party route was not viable in the long term and that IMO should focus entirely on its own network. Intentional or not, the focus on its own network now puts it on a strong footing to take on the major competitors like Google Hangouts and Skype.

Skype has the advantage of having the most popular brand name of the three. Skype emphasizes the reduction of barriers of entry for the users and is most appropriate for connecting to the users that do not have a strong connection, computers or technical knowledge. It is available on almost every device that allows connection to the internet and has cross-platform functionality. Two way video calls are free, but there might be need for subscription if there are more than two participants. Cellular users might experience less than ideal quality.

Many analysts have described the new IMO as a cross between Google Hangouts and Facebook and with the dedication of its own network, seems to be going after these three. IMO has not abandoned its core purpose of being an instant messaging service provider, but is moving away from being the go to app in terms of consolidation of instant messaging across different networks; it now wants to be the only choice. The audio and video chat options with any contact have, however, given it the power to take on Google Hangouts and Skype. Live chats fill the center of the screen, with imported contacts on the right and a new feature called broadcast.