One Year After Tearing Down The Walls, AOL Still An Also-Ran

from the free,-as-in-CDs dept

Last year, in a move that came only six years too late, AOL decided that walled gardens were out and that free web services were in. For a brief period, there was a flurry of news about AOL's attempt to reinvent itself as a Yahoo-like portal. With the walls torn down, the challenge for management was to actually give people a reason to use AOL's services, thus driving up traffic and ad revenue. Simply being free would not be enough to bring people back unless there was a compelling reason. A year later, it doesn't look like the company has accomplished this. Earnings guidance was recently reduced as the company's growth rate continues to lag behind the industry average. As Wall Street gets antsy over its performance, it seems likely that we'll hear renewed calls for Time Warner to just dump AOL and finally wash its hands of the whole affair. AOL's problem is the same one facing Yahoo: it's not Google. The difference is that Yahoo still has a lot of market share and traffic to work with. Both companies have made several acquisitions in the past year or so in an attempt to reinvent themselves, but unless one of them stumbles onto the next MySpace, Facebook or YouTube, it's unlikely that acquisitions will hold the key to a turnaround.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 1:04pm

    AOL is still in business?

    I guess so, I saw a AOL free for 3 months CD today at the Wal-Mart check-out.

    I think Dave Barry is correct in stating that half of today's landfills are AOL CDs and disposable Diapers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 1:54pm

    Re: AOL is still in business?

    Both relegated to such a fate by the same set of circumstances.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: AOL is still in business?

    "Both relegated to such a fate by the same set of circumstances."

    What a poetic way to say they are "Full of shit." I am impressed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Neal, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 2:23pm

    Ugghhhh

    Let's see... log on to AOL and check your email. See five times as many ads as you do on Yahoo. Watch as each of your pages take 30 secs to one minute to load on a 1.5MPS dsl connection while Yahoo pages load in only five. Make it to your inbox and find so much spam that you'd drown if it were water and re-suffer the ads and slow downloads over and over as you delete each one...

    Wonder why AOL can't make a go of it!?!?!?!? Could it be that they're such greedy, ignorant, Internet abusing morons that they can't comprehend that destroying the user experience drives results in fewer users and less page/ad views?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Former AOL'ER, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 2:52pm

    Many AOL.com problems can be traced back to the incompetence of Barry Schuler and the people who reported to him in the 90's. They simply did not understand the web, and came at it with a CDROM mentality (Barry's company was Medior..which did CD-based shopping catalogs). They thought they could cookie cutter all of the channels, and talked in terms of 'gold master' for a web site. The Moviefone folks who later took over some portions of the site were a little more clued in.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Haywood, Aug 20th, 2007 @ 3:52pm

    Then, there is image

    I really don't know how they can get past the "AOL IDIOT" thing. I'm guilty of prejudice toward anyone with @AOL in their e-mail address. How are you going to pull others into the fold when going there proves beyond a shadow of a doubt; that you are lacking intelligence, or at least computer savvy.
    Sadly, I have a brother who swears by AOL, I've tried to show him the light, but that only hardened his resolve. We have a fairly computer literate family, so he is an embarrassment, we just ignore the elephant in the room.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    boomhauer (profile), Aug 20th, 2007 @ 4:10pm

    Re: Re: AOL is still in business?

    best comment yet - that relegated one ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    AA in LA, Aug 21st, 2007 @ 1:48pm

    Agree with all the posts, (specially the AOL disks and diapers analogy). AOL is indeed a victim of its arrogance. I hope their story serves as a lesson to other companies (attn: DELL, cell phone companies).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    novernetsbandit, Aug 24th, 2007 @ 12:18pm

    aol disks and garbage

    Does anyone remember the old 3.5inch aol disks that used to come before cds. I was tring to do math after reading this post and i think i got 2 to 4 of those a month. So if i and the rest of the world threw those out how much did aol loss on marketing. each disk 2cents and postage maybe 15cents if you signed up they made 19.99 a month or more off you so after thinking about it they have wasted alot of money on advertising but it worked we all know who they are from the anoying disks and cds we got in the mail. I agree aol is outdated but if nothing else changes the people who cant get highspeed will always have aol.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This