AOL Subscriber Defections Continue, Topping 1 Million

from the elevator...-going-down dept

There was a period during the mid-nineties when you could track the growing popularity of the internet by seeing how quickly it took for AOL to put out a press release announcing that they had signed up “yet another” million customers. They started coming quicker and quicker. Somehow, I get the feeling that AOL won’t be doing much to promote the same milestones on the way back down. A new report says that the defections from AOL’s dialup service have continued to grow, to the point where more than 1 million subscribers have ditched the service for greener pastures. It appears that AOL is getting beaten up from the top and the bottom. Many are leaving to sign up with broadband providers (since AOL did their best to ignore that market for as long as they possibly could). Others are realizing that they can pay less than half what they’re paying AOL to get online with discount providers like United Online. In both cases, people are discovering that the “walled garden” content that is only available to AOL subscribers just isn’t worth it.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “AOL Subscriber Defections Continue, Topping 1 Million”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Doug says:

Late to broadband?

AOL did their best to ignore that market [broadband] for as long as they possibly could

I don’t understand this complaint. Broadband isn’t like dial-up: in most places, there are exactly two providers available: the telco and the cable company, both of them regulated monopolies.

Many of those broadband providers wanted to keep the ISP revenues to themselves, and required that subscribers had to use the provider’s ISP. AOL was trying to work deals with the broadband guys years ago. They had a few successes (mainly DSL) and got a lot of “shove off’s”. In response to the latter, AOL got its lawyers and lobbyists working on trying to force the providers to open up their systems to alternate ISPs, and founded the OpenNet Coalition.

This battle took an interesting turn when AOL and Time Warner merged, and AOL found itself owning the RoadRunner cable service. I don’t know about elsewhere, but here in the L.A. area, RoadRunner currently allows its subscribers to choose AOL, Earthlink, or DCN as alternatives to the RoadRunner ISP.

AOL may be late to the broadband market, but it wasn’t for lack of interest or lack of trying.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Late to broadband?

AOL may be late to the broadband market, but it wasn’t for lack of interest or lack of trying

Not true.

(1) AOL has admitted that until a year ago they only had 8 people working on figuring out how to offer broadband services. 8 people.

Read this Washington Post article for more details.

(2) AOL has, in the past, admitted also that they’ve actively discouraged people from signing up for broadband. For AOL the margins are definitely lower – but that’s no excuse to ignore a market that is going to eat your lunch.

(3) For most of the time since AOL and Time Warner merged, the two ISP divisions (AOL and Road Runner) have never worked together. In fact, in many cases there are reports that Road Runner actively discourages people from signing up for AOL.

The company basically rested on their dialup laurels until it was way too late.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...