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Time Warner Considering Demerging with AOL 105

Posted by Zonk
from the dream-on dept.
Gracenotes writes "According to the Daily Telegraph, America Online CEO Jonathan Miller notes that AOL might be successful enough to break away from Time Warner and still remain in business. According to Miller, AOL is providing many online services, which provide competition against Google, Yahoo, and other rivals. Since its merger with Time Warner and plummet in value, such features have been increasingly emphasized."
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Time Warner Considering Demerging with AOL

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  • by airencracken (993443) on Monday October 23, 2006 @02:47AM (#16543218) Homepage Journal
    The same services that can be had for five dollars in full metal jacket. Sucky Sucky.
  • Hooray for AOL... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Farmer Tim (530755) <roundfile AT mindless DOT com> on Monday October 23, 2006 @02:51AM (#16543242) Journal
    AOL might be successful enough to break away from Time Warner and still remain in business

    Can anyone actually think of a reason this is good news?
    • by SnprBoB86 (576143) on Monday October 23, 2006 @02:56AM (#16543268) Homepage
      yes... that "might"... that means they might NOT be able to stay in business. HURRAY!
    • by Elminst (53259) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:30AM (#16543950) Homepage
      As a Time Warner employee, I (and nearly all of my co-workers) can't wait till they drop the fucking dead weight that is AOL.
      • by macthulhu (603399) on Monday October 23, 2006 @10:04AM (#16545930)
        Amen to that. I wrapped up ten years at TW in June, so I got some of the before, during, and after AOL. It's like hiring a guy to come in your office and trash it every morning before you get there. Then, while you try to clean it up so you can start your work day, they sneak up behind you and kick you in the balls. The whole process repeats when you leave for lunch.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        As an AOL employee, I hope TW does spin-off AOL. Of course, after filling the management ranks with your fucking useless old guard media fuckos, I'm not sure it matters like it would have if this had never happened. Oh, and go fuck yourself, holier-than-thou TW prick. Look at the profit AOL generated to pay down TW debt you brought to the table. I think it was $18 billion in 2000. The money Google paid for a 5% stake? Swallowed whole by the TW "profit" machine. The only other part of the company tha
        • Re:Hooray for AOL... (Score:4, Informative)

          by macserv (701681) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @01:05AM (#16556054)
          As a fellow AOL employee, I wish I had mod points for you, sir.

          I'm a member of our Local Search Products team, and I can assure every employee in a far-off branch of the company that AOL is far from dead weight. We make an assload of money with our web products, and our online advertising business is growing faster than anyone else's. Before you speak, check the balance sheet.
    • by oahazmatt (868057)
      Can anyone actually think of a reason this is good news?

      Because hopefully any positions that were deemed "redundant" after the merger would be made available again, which gives some additional people work. Maybe.
  • by Uncle Snuffagus (840511) on Monday October 23, 2006 @02:57AM (#16543274)
    from TFA... ""I don't believe there is a scenario whereby we could have an independent AOL." Successful enough to break away? Thats not how I read it!
    • I think many people - especially Warner investors - must be interested why investments into merger did not pay off.

      Thou it is apparent, that both AOL and Warner have problem innovating and adjusting business to changing reality. They might have being killer combination, but as of yet, Apple's iTMS does now what they have promised many years ago but never delivered.

  • by pookemon (909195) on Monday October 23, 2006 @03:05AM (#16543338) Homepage
    They'll be successful on their own because they have a niche market. It's the "Freedom of Information" market...
  • by thewldisntenuff (778302) on Monday October 23, 2006 @03:06AM (#16543344) Homepage
    AOL just cut 1400 jobs in Arizona and New Mexico. [cbsnews.com] Not only that, but in another interesting story - [itnews.com.au]

    Internet service provider AOL's sales may shrink for the next two years as it gives away services to win more users and attract advertising, its chief executive said in an interview published on Saturday.

    "Maybe another two years, you are right there," Jonathan Miller said when asked by German newspaper Die Welt whether sales would continue to fall. "But it's about profitability for us in this phase." ...

    In recent weeks, AOL has sold its Internet access units in Germany, France and Britain for a total of almost US$2 billion as it reshapes itself into a free Web portal where popular email and entertainment services are supported by advertising.

    The only, ONLY thing holding AOL still together are people who are less internet savvy and those who cling to AOL email addresses for their lives (certain professionals, businesspeople, et al). Creating a successful and large advertising group sounds like it'd be tricky in such a large market. Most people think of AOL the ISP or the portal than the advertising giant.

    Finally, it should be noted that AOL spokesman John Buckley said "Time Warner ``is not considering a sale or demerger,'" [bloomberg.com]
    • "The only, ONLY thing holding AOL still together are people who are less internet savvy"

      My uncle swears that AOL's browser is WAY better than MSIE, Netscape, or Opera (I've had him use all of them over trying to find one he can use). AOL works and the others never do - including allowing him to login to e-bay and page rendering. I wouldn't say "internet savvy" as much as "computer savvy".

      He dropped DSL to go back to dial up because it was too "hard" to add a new e-mail through the browser - he needed AOL. I'm not real sure how he is taking the change. I know he is happy to be back in the fold, but I still hear him say he is going to go do something tonight that I know dial-up will never do (for instance, download and burn a DVD - good luck getting that done in a few hours on dial-up even though he swears it works fine). I think there is a certain amount of pride that will not allow him to say I am correct - I know he didn't download a 200+ meg file in the last 15 minutes on dial-up regardless of what he tells me.

      *shrug*. I can not really understand being that clueless on anything. While there are many many many things I know nothing about I tend to either a) trust those that are experts and do as they say (and not argue with them) or b) learn enough to do it myself. Option A isn't a big deal - there are too many things out there to know enough about (for instance, I depend on a car mechanic even though I *could* learn to do it on my own - I just do not have the time to do so and I do not enjoy working on a vehicle). Though even then I try and learn *something* about any thing I use daily/weekly, enough so that I can somewhat tell if someone is trying to rip me off or enough so that I can converse/understand what the experts tell me is wrong.

      There is obviously a market for those types of people. While my uncle is one of the worst I know, he still is not that unique. And I do not think they will ever really advance, they do not want too.
      • get him firefox with a google mail account.... and watch his world chage, you might want to install AIM so he can keep all his old buddies.
      • by malsdavis (542216) * on Monday October 23, 2006 @06:32AM (#16544250)
        I know plenty of people who won't switch to Firefox from IE for the exact same reason. Deep down they understand that Firefox is a much better browser, but they find computers so intimidating that they are scared stiff about something so simple as switching their web browser.

        People on slashdot often forget that we do not represent the majority. Just because people like us recognise when something is far better and are willing to spend 20 minutes switching, the majority are terrified that changing anything on their computer will stop it working (or I guess something along those lines).

        Which is why there are so many countless stories of irrational 'upgradeaphobia' (my word, I claim it!) by otherwise quite intelligent people.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by VGPowerlord (621254)
          Of course, if your family members (even mom and dad) were using the web starting back at Netscape 1.x, it's way easier to get them to use Firefox.

          "Oh, this? It's the latest version of Netscape. Oh, and mom, email is now in a separate program so it loads faster. You just double-click this icon that looks like an envelope with a bird on it."

          Did I mention that my mother doesn't do much web browsing? I think she's happier now that "Netscape" has email as a separate program.
          • by jZnat (793348) *
            What I like to say is, "Remember when Netscape used to be good? Well, the good Netscape is back as two separate programs now: Firefox (for web browsing) and Thunderbird (for email)."

            Some people have bad memories of Netscape 4, mind you. :)
            • I'm one of those people who had bad memories of Netscape 4. My parents actually refused to move away from Netscape, though.

              They kept using Netscape 4 until Netscape 6 came out, then they wanted to move back to 4 because they hated 6's interface. Hence the move to Firefox/Thunderbird. :P
          • Couldn't have said it better. If they need more convincing put the stumbleupon bar on firefox for them. My father swears my mother hasn't left the computer since I've done that and since it's his business machine there's alot of swearing directed at me. :D
      • by maxume (22995)
        If you ever come across the mythical clue stick, you have a guilt free target.
      • by burndive (855848)
        Last I checked (which admittedly was a long time ago) you could sign on to AOL with BYO-access using the AOL program for free.
    • by BeeBeard (999187) on Monday October 23, 2006 @08:35AM (#16545054)
      The only, ONLY thing holding AOL still together are people who are less internet savvy and those who cling to AOL email addresses for their lives (certain professionals, businesspeople, et al).


      Another +5 mis-informative comment. If you think that after all the years it's been in business, AOL is still just an ISP, then you haven't been paying attention. Their other properties [wikipedia.org] more than pay the light bill, so to speak. Just because you're not aware of them doesn't mean they don't exist.

      If AOL has a problem, it's that they are TOO big. They have a finger in too many pies, and have strayed far from their roots. They have lost focus as a company, sure, but to intimate that they are hanging on a thin financial thread that will break if your granny stops using them as an ISP is absolutely ridiculous and dishonest.
    • by philwx (789834)

      The only, ONLY thing holding AOL still together are people who are less internet savvy and those who cling to AOL email addresses for their lives (certain professionals, businesspeople, et al). Creating a successful and large advertising group sounds like it'd be tricky in such a large market. Most people think of AOL the ISP or the portal than the advertising giant.


      If people won't cancel the service because of their email address they're pretty dumb, considering you get to keep it free now even if you canc
    • by nmos (25822)
      The only, ONLY thing holding AOL still together are people who are less internet savvy and those who cling to AOL email addresses for their lives (certain professionals, businesspeople, et al).

      Agreed, and they seem to be working hard to alienate those users as fast as possible. I was recently helping an older woman get her computer feet back under her after a couple of years off. She was already familiar with AOL and wanted to keep using it. The problem was that the home page must have had 200 different l
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by philwx (789834)
        Agreed, and they seem to be working hard to alienate those users as fast as possible. I was recently helping an older woman get her computer feet back under her after a couple of years off. She was already familiar with AOL and wanted to keep using it. The problem was that the home page must have had 200 different links/buttons/pictures on it. Just finding her email or favorites etc was like some sick version of "Where's Waldo". It certainly wasn't easy. Add to that the fact that they seem to have moved all
  • by 99luftballon (838486) on Monday October 23, 2006 @03:12AM (#16543374)
    AOL is suffering from a lot of things but in the UK what's really hurt them is the commoditisation of the internet. AOL made its reputation on ease of use, helping my mother and millions of other newbys get online. It was simple, well supported, and dominated the dial up market. Now broadband is the norm and accounts for over two thirds of UK internet connections. There are a handful of suppliers who all sell kit that is as easy to use as AOL's code and they are largely telcos who own the pipes rather than renting them. AOL is living off its old user base, which explains their tricky cancellation procedure. [digg.com] There's little to keep people at AOL now. It's underfunded its internet portal, AIM is interoperating with other IM systems and Google's beating the pants off AOL in local service provision. The Carphone Warehouse deal shows how little impact AOL has today. Maybe it'll spur a retro market for AOL emails...
    • by linuxci (3530) on Monday October 23, 2006 @03:41AM (#16543502)
      In the UK I suspect a lot of run of the mill ISPs will die out with Sky (news corps UK satellite service) and mobile phone companies like Orange offering free broadband to their customers. I'm not sure why ntl:Telewest our biggest cable company has still not offered the service free yet but I'm sure they will so they don't lose out to Sky.

      But with most people getting broadband for free once these rollouts complete the only market for a subscription ISP will be for those that need something the free ISPs don't offer (static IP's, usenet, etc), that's not an AOL niche.
      • I would hope most Telewest customers know when they are on to a good thing. I was on Telewest broadband since day 1 and I had maybe one minor outage a year and by the end was on 10mbit. I moved house to a non-Telewest area and had to go to ADSL which in comparison is frankly crap. Very flaky and I'm with what is supposed to be the UK's best ISP (Zen). It was also a rude shock to find out how many ADSL ISPs used packet shaping and low usage caps. I did some maths and realised I was pulling down 100Gb a month
        • by Ollierose (202763)
          Perhaps thats why they aren't offering it free. The free services (certainly Skys, and probably Oranges as well) are capped down to what I thought were ridiculous levels, but now seem to be roughly half the standard in the paid market. Meanwhile, Telewest say up front that there are no limits of any sort on what you transfer.

          I wouldn't be suprised to see the return of the old scheme from NTL where you get a not-so-broadband connection for a trivial amount (probably now free with phone or TV) which is limite
    • Yeah, I always did want @compuserve.com...
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The trouble is the vast majority of UK ISPs either apply rediculous download limits (30GB/month on a 16mbit line!) or utilise DPI traffic shaping methods on an 'unlimited' service (Tiscali for example). I pay for an internet connection not a web connection, and I don't expect to be throttled back to 10KB/s when I'm doing anything other then web browsing.

      AOL are one of the very few (and shrinking) number of UK ISPs that offer a truly unlimited, reliable connection. (btw I don't use AOL, I'm just saying!) May
    • by rHBa (976986)
      This recording must be quite old as it sounds like the AOL operative speaks English as a first language. I just spent 2 hours trying to cancel a friends account, the first half hour was spent in a queue. When I eventually got through to the call center (in India) the line was very bad and the person on the other end claimed they couldn't hear what I was saying and hung up. I called again, spent another half hour in a queue and when I got through I couldn't understand what *they* were saying!!??!!
  • by Mantrid42 (972953) on Monday October 23, 2006 @03:16AM (#16543398)
    AOL is competing with Google and Yahoo? I guess in the sense that a one-legged horse with rabies is competing in the Kentucky Derbie, that might be accurate... if the horse is also dead.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by woodsrunner (746751)
      Sad but true. Time Warner really blew it. They could have leveraged AOL's strength and really catapulted into the twenty-first century. Could you imagine what they would be like today if they had taken care of what they had in AOL? Instead of keeping it as a ISP whore, they could have made it into a media delivery powerhouse.

      For example what if they offered their library of media along with the AOL subscription... they would have been there before iTunes even started.

      What a waste.
    • AOL/TW did do one thing that I've not sen done ANYWHERE else, before or since. Does anybody remember Live 8 last year? Their coverage beat anything else out there, particularly when you compare it to MTV's coverage.

      I don't think that was a majority of either TW or AOL, rather a combination of both orgs' strengths.

      The web really was the best venue for that type of event. TV just didn't do it justice.

  • An AOL split from Time Warner does two things. 1) Gets the looser off the back of TW 2) Lets AOL explore changes to it's business with out TW breathing down it's neck AOL can survive as a seperate entity if it reduces it's cost base (which it is, through layoffs and sales), and redirect the focus of the company to compete in a defined market. Think about it, who does AOL really compete with? Yes it's an Internet provider, but it's also a content provider, a portal provider, and many other things. I can
    • True, but I think the point is that the people that needed the internet, content, and the portal all-together are now starting to "grow up" and out of the AOL system. Even if AOL becomes free, there are plenty of other free, ad-free ways to get all three elements seperately nowadays.
      I'm of the opinion that AOL is dying, and because of a combination of inconvenience, ads, and bad maneuvers in the past, it won't make make up for itself, even if a format change happens soon.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BewireNomali (618969)
        I don't think AOL is dying. A free aol that offers search, mail, IM, and content under one umbrella is exactly what google is assembling. The concept of AOL is alive and well. We can definitely talk about implementation and how one differs from another, but frankly, the user is becoming less aware of what goes on under the hood as time goes along, not more. The concept of an all in one place for everything on a dumbed down terminal is becoming more practical to the end user. And in key places, AOL still has
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lord Kano (13027)
      Yes it's an Internet provider, but it's also a content provider, a portal provider, and many other things.

      AOL as a content provider is a sure loser. If you were trying to get to the largest possible audience with your product (TV show, music, etc...) would you go with a provider that has such a miniscule user base and lock out the rest?

      LK
    • I only dropped AOL fairly recently because I didn't have time to use it but for several years it was the chat rooms that kept me there. I had endless fun in rooms like 'War on Terror' swapping abuse with people or on the odd occassion someone with half a clue turned up, debating the issues of the day. The UK eventually blocked direct access to US chat rooms but I had the ones I used most bookmarked and those still provided access. The chat rooms were by and large killed by the restrictions put on them to st
    • I reluctantly agree, AOL can make it.

      At work most of the guys at the top of the Org Chart use AOL at home. Why? Because it works with everything else they use. Their Cell phones, their iTunes store, etc.

      It is surprising, but I've had a hard time convincing myself to push anyone towards a gmail account at work when AOL works with so many different services. I still think AOL is the Epson of ISP's, but that's because they assume (sometimes rightly) that their users are ignorant and incapable of doing anyt
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ted Turner Sends Self Back In Time To Prevent AOL Time Warner Merger
    The Onion, 2003-03-12
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/27938 [theonion.com]

    ATLANTA--According to a videotaped message airing exclusively on CNN, media mogul Ted Turner has sent himself back in time to January 2000 to avert the catastrophic merger of America Online and Time Warner.

    "By the time you see this, I will have returned to Year Zero of the AOL Time Warner merger in a time machine of my own design," said Turner in the three-minute message, which
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 23, 2006 @03:35AM (#16543480)
    AOL: Hi this is AOL, how can we help you?

    TimeW: Well, I'd like to cancel my service

    AOL: sorry to hear that, can we offer you our high speed internet services?

    TimeW: No, thats ok.. I just want to cancel the account, I'm not a n00b anymore.

    AOL: have you tried our great new chatting shizz?

    TimeW: look, I want to quit, do it now plz kthx

    AOL: I"m having a hard time understanding exactly what you want me to do?

    (insert 9 more minutes of infuriating banter here)

    anyway.. Time Warner knows they have a dinosaur on their hands.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I had far better luck with AOL UK.
      Me: I want to cancel my account
      AOL: IS there a problem with the service?
      Me: No, my pc died and I can't afford to fix it for some months.
      AOL: OK, but if you come back in the next 6 months you can have your original account names still.
      Me: Cool.
      AOL: Ok, thanks for your call, bye.

      Job done.
      • America Online United Kingdom...isn't that an oxymoron?
        • >isn't that an oxymoron?
          It would be if it was called America Online. it is marketed purely as AOL with no mention of America Online.
          • by malsdavis (542216) *
            Besides which it no longer even has anything to do with America Online / AOL Time Warner Inc. as the company recently sold this UK arm. I was surprised when I first heard this as the UK is a very lucrative market being one of the most broadband connected countries on earth. It seems though this was actually the reason for the sale. As elsewhere, AOL UK has struggled to make money on broadband connections and with the UK having one of the most competitive broadband markets in the world it seems the biggest w
  • by Channard (693317) on Monday October 23, 2006 @03:44AM (#16543514) Journal
    Time Warner Exec: Okay, it's decided. We're going to demerge with you.
    AOL Exec: Really? Why do you want to demerge with us?
    TW: I guess you weren't as profitable as we hoped.
    AOL: Well, if I could offer you 10,000 free AOL shares would you consider not demerging?
    TW: Look, it's a done deal. We're demerging. Just do it.
    AOL: Really? You're sure I can't change your mind?
    TW: We're demerging, dammit!
    AOL: Let me put you onto my manager.
    TW: Hey, wait, I just want to demerge *transfer*
    AOL VP: So, sir. I gather you're thinking of demerging. Are you aware of the many benefits being merged with AOL offers.
    TW: JESUS CHRIST! Just Dememerge already?
    AOL VP: Okay, sir, just let me put you through to our demerging department.
    *click*
    TW: Hello? Hello? Fuckers! They hung up on me!
    • by bytesex (112972) on Monday October 23, 2006 @04:14AM (#16543626) Homepage
      Time Warner Exec: Okay, it's decided. We're going to demerge with you.
      AOL Exec: Really? Look. It's _US_ who bought _YOU_. So _WE_ are going to demerge with _YOU_, not the other way 'round.
      TW: Ha ! Loser. We are bigger now. _WE_ are going to demerge with _YOU_.
      AOL: Hell no ! _WE_ are going to demerge with _YOU_ motherf$%^# !
      TW: No ! Because I'm going to call the demerge department now !
      AOL: Not if I can get there quicker ! Hello ?! Hello ?! Fucker ! He hung up on me !
    • by JustNiz (692889)
      >> AOL: Well, if I could offer you 10,000 free AOL shares would you consider not demerging? Shouldn't that be: AOL: Well, if I could offer you 10,000 free AOL hours would you consider not demerging?
  • Obligatory (Score:2, Funny)

    by dteichman2 (841599)
    Me too!

  • Damn You AOL! You are sinking us in a hole! We must dump you now! Maybe that crummy OSTG will want it!?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    But on the other side...

    When I see that someone has an aol.com email address I know exactly what kind of "skilled" "CS" "expert" he is and can skip most (if not all) questions of the job interview.

    That saved me a lot of time in the past.
    • by jZnat (793348) *
      Imagine the mass chaos as everyone with AIM accounts desperately tries to find out how to contact their friends and family! The surge in traffic on MySpace might bring it down [for the 30th time this month]! Think of the children!
  • I never saw the point of aol, evven when i got my first online account, yes it was aol and I hated it. I could not use it on my red hat 6.2 back then that angerd me. So i went and switched to earth link wich was linux freindly. Even on my home computer I had an Macintosh LC II, and like today it aol was anoying, all i wanted was a connection, not this fluff and doddas. On the other hand you have to give it up to aol, the smartest thing they ever did was purchase instant messenger, from terroist, lol. (yes i
  • Wait. I got confused. Which is the internet black hole? North Korea or AoL?
  • They should stay put because Time/Warner makes money without even trying and provides AOL with a source of capital to keep them in enough cash to keep current customers happy and entice new customers to join. They have been emphasizing services like what Google and Yahoo provide but thier infrastructure is not set up in a way that would exploit those services soon enough to turn a profit. If they stay with Time/Warner, they have a parental backing that has stockpiles of cash and assets that AOL can leverage
  • Apparently depressed board members have been playing goodbye.wav on a loop to lift their spirits.

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