AOL is Giving Up The Ghost

Like the wounds of the ten children a year who plummet into holes in the ground filled with the jagged shards of discarded AOL cds, America Online is just hemorrhaging money and subscribers these days.

The reasons aren’t hard to figure out. First of all and most importantly, AOL as a service has always sucked. But the business model itself presumes that customers actually want to pay for an online service that coagulates access, advertising and e-commerce; unfortunately, that business model has been obsolete, if not since the 90’s, then at least over the last few years. People now buy themselves a pipe directly from a telecommunications service… why pay for advertising or e-commerce, when you can get better deals on those things for free than when going through AOL and better service to boot?

Even Time Warner hates AOL. The executives still nurse grudges against AOL for having to put up with the swaggering pomposity of its staff even as shares fell 75%. AOL bleeds a couple million subscribers every year; profits shrunk 17% last quarter alone.

We’d always hoped that AOL would die — perhaps by having an AOL starter CD propelled at railgun velocity through the directors’ necks. The Economists’ article is a good summary of why a business model centered around bad service and sending junk mail to every citizen in America isn’t a tenable long term business model.

From :-) to :-( [Economist]


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  1. Papercutninja says:

    And yet, i STILL know people who have AOL. Its crazy!

  2. Thumper says:

    I think looking to advertising as a revenue model just shows how much TW stinks. Big media companies are having a hard time understanding “what’s next.” AOL has been working on redeveloping backends to allow for new frontends to their technology/content. AIM recently ended up on the new platform, maybe with a better toolbox you can build a better house?

  3. AcidReign says:

    …..I still have AOL. Its email has always been a lot safer than Outlook. And I think the Gawker folk have some recent experience with Thunderbird issues… Of course, I did buy into Bellsouth’s pipe. But Bellsouth sometimes takes two or three DAYS to pass an email through their system! So, yeah, I’m paying $9.95 a month for email and occasional music, and another $40 [after all the weird taxes and fees] or so for DSL.

    …..And there’s some good music/vid content on AOL that would be a pain to search up on one’s own. My time is valuable! I’d say that the biggest complaint I have against AOL is the huge, bloated install. After it, it’s prune, prune, prune! And don’t forget msconfig: start-up apps, and services. The only thing it really needs, to run, is “AOL connectivity services.”