by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
broadband, mergers, portals, spinoff, strategy

aol, time warner

Time Warner Takes Steps To Finally Spin Off AOL

from the a-bit-late dept

As part of Time Warner's earnings conference call, the company noted that it will be splitting AOL into two parts: cutting the rapidly shrinking access subscriber business from the content/advertising business. Many folks are assuming this is in preparation to finally sell AOL off. Of course, like so much that AOL/Time Warner has done over the years, this is too little too late. Remember the happy days in the 90's when AOL would come out with a press release announcing every million new subscribers? Funny that they don't do that for every million lost subscribers... However, it's been those subscribers that have hindered AOL's ability to adjust. For years, they were afraid to do too much with free content to lose that subscription base, even as that subscription base was figuring out that they could already go elsewhere and get the same content for free (and buy access for much less). So, when the company finally adopted a free model, it was too late to simply throw the doors open. People just weren't that interested. The same is true now. Time Warner had a chance to salvage AOL years back, if they had aggressively tied it to a broadband strategy rather than competing with itself and giving lip service to a more complete strategy which never actually seemed to happen. Finally separating out the dwindling access business is hardly going to catapult the rest of the business forward, as most people have simply moved on to other sources. While the sheer size of AOL's traffic can hold it up for a while (and may make it an attractive buyout for someone looking only to buy some traffic), it's lack of innovation and growth have pretty much doomed it to also-ran status.

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  • identicon
    mojo, 6 Feb 2008 @ 6:36pm

    Within a few years I suspect AOL will simply be a free, ad-supported email service. That's pretty much the least you can do if you want to make SOMETHING out of all those people who have (and probably want to keep for convenience) AOL email addys.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2008 @ 7:04pm


    In my opinion, im happy to see AOL going. As a computer repair tech, i cant count how many times ive had machine brought in with AOL on them and the customer asking that i remove it. The AOL program acts much like a virus, in the sense that it slows down your computer, and can be difficult to totally remove. Now tack on the hefty price per month for this "service" and you can see why alot of consumers have taken their business elsewhere. Then on top of it all, if im PAYING for a service, i sure as hell dont want to see any ads. AOL is riddled with ads, and pop ups and unders, and also went as far as allowing some advertisers to DOWNLOAD program into the users computers without permission of the individual. They merely just added a clause into the user agreement later that allowed this. Boy, when ya think about all of these not surprised Time Warner has decided to let AOL go to the wayside. not surprising coming from a company that started as a movie company...

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

    • identicon
      The Exorcist, 6 Feb 2008 @ 7:50pm

      Re: AoHELL

      You're darned right about AOL acting like a virus.. I can't count how many people who've asked me to dump it out of their system. It also LOVES to take control of many file types, media, etc. and force the users who don't know any better to open files saved locally on their machine using AOL. Why in the name of all thats unholy do you need AOL to open a jpg?

      One word.. GREED.

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

  • identicon
    John, 6 Feb 2008 @ 8:33pm


    I have personally boycotted any product affiliated with AOL in any manner at all. All time warner movies, all EA games, all AOL services including AIM and POGO games, I will not repair a computer that has AOL on it, I refuse to even use Time Warner Cable internet at my little brother's house.

    The reason I did this is because of the manipulative brute force tactics used by AOL sales people, the difficulty in removing AOL and canceling it, the IMPOSSIBLITIY of AOL getting their billing correct.

    POGO double charges people for their account. And if you try to complain they will threaten to remove all of your badges and tokens. AOL signed my mom up for several "Additional Features, at no extra cost*****" It cost an extra $30 a month for features she 1. Didn't understand, 2. didn't use.

    I hate AOL. EVERYONE HATES AOL. As far as software failures go it surpasses even Windows ME.

    So why should anyone care if the company goes down like a shot pigeon falling from the sky? Because some old people use AOL and don't know a lot about computers. They think their mail is sent to their computer, like real mail. They think that AOL is the "real internet", and every other internet company just lets you use the AOL internet (real comments by computer repair customers).

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

  • identicon
    Doc Slobber, 6 Feb 2008 @ 10:18pm

    Good Riddance AOL


    It's great to see AOL finally dying. One of the most hated companies throughout the land.

    And that hate is well deserved. From offering their customers their own special view of the web using a mangled browser and a restrictive firewall to making it almost impossible for their subscribers to terminate their service, the death of this Internet dinosaur is a long time coming.

    Good riddance AOL.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Feb 2008 @ 6:27am

    I miss the free CD's. They made great coasters.

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

  • identicon
    Alimas, 7 Feb 2008 @ 7:03am

    AOL Veteran

    I used AOHell back in the day. My mother got it as our first internet access back in AOL 1.0 for DOS. The DOS one was great, no ads, small, loaded fast. We used it until they stopped supporting it and forced us to upgrade to the monstrous windows version in order to keep getting access.
    Then used it all the way through version 5.5. Then we dropped it for NetZero (which was free at the time) and then I got cable internet and never went back. I didn't know what I was missing.
    the relief was like having been cured of some horrible gruesome disease.

    Goodbye, AOL.

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

    • identicon
      Alimas, 7 Feb 2008 @ 7:05am

      Re: AOL Veteran

      Now I only see it when I'm trying to wrestle it off of people's computers. Its as bad as the adware I take off simultaneously!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Feb 2008 @ 7:58am

    I always loved how you had this online service that the only way to cancel it was to write a letter or talk to a customer service rep who would do anything and everything possible to keep you from cancelling your subscription. The whole reason people go online is so they don't have to call customer service or write letters.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Feb 2008 @ 8:14am

    AOHELL 4.0 FTW

    I first started using AOL back in 93-94, AOL 3.0 I think, for Window 3.11, at the time it was great, but after 4.0 it was all down hill.

    7, 8 and 9 were the viruses (was there a 10?), about 2 years ago, when I was very poor, and had NO form of internet, I borrowed a neighboors phone line late at night, and used AOL to get net access, after some experimenting I found that 4.0 connects faster then any other version after it. 38kbs vs 28kbs.... just something worth noting.

    It's still really slow, especially considering that, the dial up access was being daisy chained to 8 other computers...

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

    • identicon
      Alimas, 7 Feb 2008 @ 8:40am

      Re: AOHELL 4.0 FTW

      Yeah, there was AOL 3.0 for windows 3.11 and AOL 3.0 for Windows 95. 16-bit vs. 32-bit.
      We had 3.11 on a 386 when I downloaded the 3.0 update (took like three days or something). The program took about 15 minutes to load. I'd open it up and it'd come to the big screen window. Then I'd go have dinner and come back just in time for it to finish loading.
      I liked the login key that got struck by lightning, but in 4.0 they changed it go the little man running.

      Damn, I can't believe I remember all this.

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

  • identicon
    Doc Slobber, 7 Feb 2008 @ 3:54pm


    Does NetZero still charge for tech support? I seem to remember a friend telling me that they charged some big fees for support.

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

  • identicon
    Blargh, 3 Mar 2008 @ 11:12am


    I'm also a computer technician. Having dealt with AOL's crap multiples times, it seems only fitting that karma would take them down.

    About time anyway..

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

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