Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
America Online The Almighty Buck The Internet

AOL Reports Its First Drop In Subscribers 182

Flamesplash writes "Yahoo! is running this AP story about AOL's first drop in subscribers. 170,000 US subscribers have left AOL in their fourth quarter of 2002, apparently due to users becoming more comfortable with broadband connections. It should be noted though that 'AOL has said it has stopped simply signing up new customers for the sake of counting them.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AOL Reports Its First Drop In Subscribers

Comments Filter:
  • by corebreech ( 469871 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:28PM (#5206340) Journal
    Isn't that like saying you made X number of dollars, when you only made Y?

    Oh yeah...
  • Oh no! How are we going to easily identify the scum of the Internet without @aol.com on the email address!
    • by miu ( 626917 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:36PM (#5206403) Homepage Journal
      Oh no! How are we going to easily identify the scum of the Internet without @aol.com on the email address!

      "Assholes always advertise."
      Days of Atonement, Walter John Williams

      No worries, this will hold true for the forseeable future.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      How are we going to easily identify the scum of the Internet without @aol.com on the email address!

      Or those who live in a country without freephone internet access apart from AOL.

      Or those who signed on in 1994 and only stick with it because of their email address is widely distributed.

      Or those who have 200 mb of email in their Personal Filing Cabinets and don't want to lose it. (The file format changes every release, the "converter" programs hardly work at all.)

      Or those who find it convienient to be able to either dial up from just about anywhere internationally, or check their webmail without having to use Yahoo or Hotmail?

      Or those who just find it convenient?
      • How are we going to easily identify the scum of the Internet without @aol.com on the email address!

        Or those who live in a country without freephone internet access apart from AOL.

        Or those who signed on in 1994 and only stick with it because of their email address is widely distributed.

        Or those who have 200 mb of email in their Personal Filing Cabinets and don't want to lose it. (The file format changes every release, the "converter" programs hardly work at all.)

        Or those who find it convienient to be able to either dial up from just about anywhere internationally, or check their webmail without having to use Yahoo or Hotmail?

        Or those who just find it convenient?


        Too funnny. I guess you can find an AC to step up and defent just about anything now.
      • hmm..I can check my webmail without using yahoo or hotmail....in fact, i'm pretty sure most major (hell, even most mom n pops even) ISP's offer webmail.

        as far as being in a country without dial up, save AOL...I feel bad for you, that's something that should be forced upon no one (eventhough you must love it)

        i still think AOL is rediculous in the amount of pop ups and advertising in general that are produced by something you are already paying to use.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:29PM (#5206356)
    We won't get as many free coasters anymore?
    • I've got to start buying my frisbees again?
    • It means we'll get more free coasters as AOL tries to compensate for the lost customers.

      Jason
      ProfQuotes [profquotes.com]
    • Re:Does this mean... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by krin ( 519611 )
      Remember when 3.5" floppies were still the major media type and you could actually use those AOL discs for something?

      What gets me, is now AOL sends that CD you just toss in the garbage to you in a little metal tin. And the address label is printed on the thing so you have to sit there and scrape it off (if your the paranoid type that does that). I haven't taken a second look at an AOL disc in years, the last time I even bothered to open one up was for the DVD case a few came in awhile back (always nice to have a spare).
      • Remember when 3.5" floppies were still the major media type and you could actually use those AOL discs for something?
        Hey, they're called "coasters" for a reason! Although I never got one from AOL - the one I'm using is from Sprint.
      • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Saturday February 01, 2003 @08:25PM (#5207523) Journal
        Remember when you could request up to 99 of them?

        That was fun. Kept me in 3 1/2 floppies for years :->
        • I used to do the same thing. Every time I found an AOL magazine insert, I'd send it in.

          However, I found that the free AOL floppies were of very low quality. 1 1/2 years after saving some files the discs were unreadable.

          Fortunately I had a proper tape backup of most the files in question.

          I'd say that 90% of them were defective. No better than the '50 for $20.00 jammies' you were able to find in Staples and Comp-USA at the time. Those discs didn't last too long either.

          • However, I found that the free AOL floppies were of very low quality. 1 1/2 years after saving some files the discs were unreadable.

            How, exactly, is this any different from 3.5" floppies from other sources? Write something today and you're lucky to be able to read it next week.

      • Just drop it shiney side up into the microwave on high for 2 seconds.

        The result is a cool looking cracked pattern and your AOL cd is now a decorative coaster or something to hang on the wall.
  • by Neophytus ( 642863 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:31PM (#5206372)
    It should be noted though that AOL has said it has stopped simply signing up new customers for the sake of counting them.
    Is this an admission that the hundreds of CDs each and everyone here will have recieved were just a stunt to get the numbers up?
    • Is this an admission that the hundreds of CDs each and everyone here will have recieved were just a stunt to get the numbers up?

      I think it is really the result of Case being given the heave ho a few weeks back. Time Warner is back under Time Warner management. It is very clear that the business will soon be called Time Warner again. At this point the AOL division is a liability the management would be happy to get rid of for the price of the debt it carries ($8 billion or so).

      Another property that might well be detached in the near future is the CNN division which Ted Turner is rumoured to be attempting to buy back. It appears that Ted believes CNN is dropping in the ratings for the same reason I do, they stopped doing news and did human interest bullshit with empty headed bimbos like Paula Zahn and Connie Chung.

    • I've had AOL for free for 8 months simply because every time I call up to cancel my free trial (on the last possible day) they extend it another two months. When asked why I'd like to cancel, I've told their operators flat out that "I'll keep using it as an internet connection as long as you keep giving it to me, but I'm not paying for it."

      This is quickly followed up by a "Have you tried out keyword _______? You can't find that anywhere but AOL! How 'bout another two free months to check it out?"

      I think that in its self shows they're still signing people up for the sake of counting them.
  • by TheSam ( 636870 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:31PM (#5206374)
    One Evil Empire beginning to crumble, one more to go....
  • AOL has said it has stopped simply signing up new customers for the sake of counting them
    Maybe that's why MS is now giving out dividends, they can't count any higher either?
    • Re:Eh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by nelsonal ( 549144 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @06:30PM (#5206728) Journal
      That statement is pretty unclear, what they meant was that AOL is not signing up free trial customers in the same numbers just to keep their subscriber count growing. The drop was in the number of non-paying trial customers, that account for about 10% of their US subscriber base of about 26 million. They have another 8 in Europe, and the rest are mostly in Latin America. Thier paid subscriber base actually increaseed during the quarter, I believe. The full details are all in their quarterly conference call available on the corporate web page, for at least another week or so.
  • More Info (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:34PM (#5206389)
    Here's a better article [washingtonpost.com] from the Washington Post.

    It should be noted that, 'Despite the small decline in the number of AOL subscribers in the United States during the fourth quarter, the total number of subscribers grew enough during the other nine months of the year to enable America Online to post a 1.2 million net increase in customers during 2002.'

    Also, AOL is still by far the number one ISP with 26.5 million U.S. customers to MSN's 9 million.
    • AOL is losing lots of customers to services like speakeasy [speakeasy.net] because the speed and support are better.
      • AOL is losing lots of customers to services like speakeasy [speakeasy.net] because the speed and support are better.

        Yes and no. As a Speakeasy customer, I can say that you're right that the speed is better, but you're dead wrong when you say the support is better. I've never had worse support from an ISP than I've had from Speakeasy.

        • Weird. I've never had better support for anything than I've had from Speakeasy. Certainly better than what I was getting from SBC Internet for their own broadband service.
          • I'm sure I'm unique in my experiences with Speakeasy, but they've been reliably terrible for me. I should qualify that the problems I've had have not been with any tech support (though the latest problem I dealt with stemmed from their inability to troubleshoot a technical issue), but instead with billing and payment issues, and Speakeasy's inability to keep promises. Most recently, I had a bad SDSL modem (it was bad since day one, but worked well enough that I only suffered nightly DSL outtages). The modem was purchased in November 01, I began bugging their tech support about the nightly outtages in Feb 02, and continued to do so until in Nov 02 they finally decided the modem was faulty -- conveniently right after the modem's warranty expired. Eay enough to solve, you'd think. Plenty of documentation showing I've been having problems long prior to the warranty expiration, so just replace it under warranty. That's what they said they'd do. Imagine my surprise, then, when I got my December bill -- $150 for a new modem, plus $200 for the tech visit (because apparently I'm not qualified to plug the modem into the wall jack), plus some random $80 "miscellaneous" fee, plus all of the assorted taxes on said service (including two poorly named "tax reimbursements" that were no reimbursements at all, but charges). That sure doesn't sound like a modem replaced under warranty to me! Anyway, when I finally noticed the erroneous charges in January (yay autopayments, I didn't see all of this until looking at my credit card statement), it took me about a week to actually speak with someone at a high enough level to credit back those charges. And just to add insult to injury, I had to call them, even though I was promised a call-back (typical Speakeasy -- they'll promise to call you back until they're blue in the face, but you'll never ever get that call).


            Things are sorted out now, but I'm eagerly anticipating how they plan to screw me over this year. After having been screwed in 2001 and screwed in 2002, I have no reason to believe 2003 will be any different.


            If it weren't that Speakeasy is the best DSL provider in the business (and that says more about their competition than it does about Speakeasy), I'd switch immediately. As it is, I put up with their bullshit so that I can have DSL how I want it. It sucks, but such is life.

            • Still weird. They've had no problems letting me plug things in myself, and I've never had to wait for a callback--they've even called me back in response to emails I've sent them, and sometimes just to make sure everything's okay, and that my latest request has been satisfied. I've never had to deal with chargebacks, or warrany replacement issues, so I can't really speak to that... but it sounds like they just hate you, personally.
              • it sounds like they just hate you, personally

                That's pretty much what I've decided. I'm pretty sure there's a permanent note attached to my account that reads, "This guy is a chump. See how bad you can screw this customer." What's worse is that I'm in the Seattle area, which is Speakeasy's home town. If anybody is going to get good service, you'd expect it to be the people from the place where Speakeasy originated. I can't even claim that they're not giving me good service because I'm not paying them much. (I'm on 768 SDSL, though I'd rather not be -- that came from their first attempt to screw me, wherein my initial 1.5/384 ADSL line at $90/mo was deemed to be $250/mo, with three months back charge, so we split the difference with Speakeasy dropping all charges for that line and me moving to $160/mo 768 SDSL. One of the more expensive consumer plans, so theoretically I should be getting stellar service, yes?)


                When even the best is shit (from my own experiences), you learn to live with shit. Maybe I should start a pool for when in 2003 Speakeasy will screw me again and make some money off of my misfortunes. (Personally, my money would be on if/when I move -- I'm planning on buying a house/condo/something other than my apartment, and will want to carry my DSL with me on the move, but that's also prime territory for fuck-ups, so that's where the smart money would be if I choose to do that this year).

  • by happyhippy ( 526970 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:36PM (#5206407)
    ...carpet bombing the world with their '100 HOURS FREE TRIAL!!!' CD
  • "ding-dong the witch is dead, the wicked witch! the witch is dead!" (define dead declining)
  • by Amsterdam Vallon ( 639622 ) <amsterdamvallon2003@yahoo.com> on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:38PM (#5206416) Homepage
    They have a nicely written, in-depth piece on AOL's new head master, Dick Parsons, as he deals with the trials and tribulations of running such a large, well-known company as AOL.

    Non-registration, direct link version: Tests Keep Coming for AOL Time Warner's Well-Tested Chief [nytimes.com]

    *nix.org [starnix.org] -- BSD, Linux, OS X, & Solaris community
  • by Tsar ( 536185 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:40PM (#5206430) Homepage Journal
    It's all a trick! AOL is actually involved in a conspiracy with RMS, Linus Torvalds and Lawrence Lessig to cover the dumps of the world with enough aluminized plastic discs to increase the continent's average reflectivity, causing a new Ice Age. Once temperatures drop to below freezing all over the globe...

    Penguins will rule the Earth!
    Of course, I could be wrong...
  • Yea, well..... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mao che minh ( 611166 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:41PM (#5206437) Journal
    Times are changing. A good number of casual, novice computer users are beginning to become comfortable enough to use other ISPs that lack the complete solution of AOL. I still don't see AOL ever losing a substantial userbase any time soon though.

    I think that a few of you can relate to this: I don't make a heck of alot of money off my single, constant IT job. This forces me to do alot of consulting for everyone from small businesses to "Joe User". Joe User still doesn't have or need much understanding about computers, and still prefers the simplistic experience that is AOL. Until another major ISP can offer the ease of use that AOL can for a significantly lower cost (unlike MSN), then most AOL userrs have no incentive to switch.

  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by long_john_stewart_mi ( 549153 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:45PM (#5206456)
    For its part, AOL has said it has stopped simply signing up new customers for the sake of counting them.

    Well, this disproves the "To them, you are not just a number" Theory.

    Signed,

    24783
  • by bjorky ( 78181 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:45PM (#5206458) Homepage Journal
    Or a lot of 'Vacation Signups' (i.e. sign up for an AOL account when you're on vacation to have access , but then you cancel when you get home)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    170,000 people are the Advanced/Newhouse subscribers are no longer part of AOL/Time Warner. Newhouse is the Indianapolis, Orlando , Tampa/ST Pete Time Warner subscribers. When Time Warner was going thru the massive growth in the mid 90's they merged with Advanced/Newhouse cable out of Colorado. Part of the deal was that Newhouse can pull out of the merger if conditions get bad. About 3 months ago there was an anouncement that Advanced/Newhouse would control the above TW markets but still keep the TW name. But They Tecnically are Newhouse cable . I should Know I have some dealings with the cable Industry.

    "AOL said the results also reflect the deconsolidation of certain cable systems pursuant to the restructuring of the cable partnership between Time Warner Entertainment Company L.P. and Advance/Newhouse.

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid =5 28&e=1&cid=528&u=/ap/20030131/ap_on_hi_te/aol_subs cribers
  • 170,000 people are the Advanced/Newhouse subscribers are no longer part of AOL/Time Warner. Newhouse is the Indianapolis, Orlando , Tampa/ST Pete Time Warner subscribers. When Time Warner was going thru the massive growth in the mid 90's they merged with Advanced/Newhouse cable out of Colorado. Part of the deal was that Newhouse can pull out of the merger if conditions get bad. About 3 months ago there was an anouncement that Advanced/Newhouse would control the above TW markets but still keep the TW name. But They Tecnically are Newhouse cable . I should Know I have some dealings with the cable Industry.

    "AOL said the results also reflect the deconsolidation of certain cable systems pursuant to the restructuring of the cable partnership between Time Warner Entertainment Company L.P. and Advance/Newhouse.

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid =5 28&e=1&cid=528&u=/ap/20030131/ap_on_hi_te/aol_subs cribers
  • by sdmartin101 ( 601186 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:56PM (#5206510)
    Umm... Maybe my grip on English is slipping, but I have no idea what the line "[they have] stopped simply signing up new customers for the sake of counting them" is supposed to mean. Anyone care to parse this for me? Best I can make out of is their saying "we aren't clever enough to get a current membership count at the same time as we are adding new subscribers." Am I missing something?

    (30 seconds later)Jeebus! I finally got it to parse: "AOL used to sign up new members, not because it would increase revenue, but because it would increase their total number of subscribers (which presumably had some marketing value on its own). They have stopped this, and now expect to make money from their users." Someone, please explain the concept of scope ambiguity to the author of that article!!!

  • by E-Rock-23 ( 470500 ) <lostprophyt.gmail@com> on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:57PM (#5206514) Homepage Journal
    AOL's recent ad campaign for their AOL 8.0 service has to be the direct reason for the drop in subscribers. Let's do the math:

    In one scene, where a "dad" talks about setting up the parental controls for his "kids," a shot of the screen is shown with three users listed. The first user in the list (name unknown, and doesn't matter) is shown as having Adult access. The second user on this list is the key. First of all, the user name is HappyAOLUser, and is shown as having Older Teen access. First of all, what Teenager in their right(?) mind would use HappyAOLUser as their screen name? None. And secondly, is there such a thing as a Happy AOL User? I haven't met any...

    Here's the big detractor. Their offer boasts 1,025 hours free for the first 45 days. Let's do the math. There are 24 hours in a day, right? OK. So, let's multiply that by 45. The answer is 1,080 hours. Now, we subtract from that the 1,025 hours offered for free. We get 55 hours. Divide those 55 hours by the original 45 days, and you get 1.2222222r. So, in order to use up all of the 1,025 hours in 45 days, a single AOL user would only be able to get 1.22222r hours of sleep per day in the 45 day period.

    Simply put, either the user doesn't get to use all of the free hours, or they die from sleep deprivation trying to get them all in.

    Couple this with the slowly growing demand for broadband, AOL's lack of local servers (resulting in long distance bills for some users), and the frequent busy signals encountered, you have your reason for people migrating away from AOL.
    • Everything up to the very last part of your post should have been moderated FUNNY, not INTERESTING. Gah.

      1000+ FREE hours is just marketing - nobody seriously thinks that the fact you can't use it all in 45 days is a "big detractor".

      And the new AOL8.0 commercials - with the HappyAOLUser 'propaganda' screenname which is only on-screen for a split-second - isn't any lamer than any of their other "'its so easy!" commercials.

      You could have just left that part of your argument out... unless you were trying to be funny and the mods were on crack again.

      (disclaimer: I hate AOL but you wouldn't know it from this post).

      --

    • how about downloading while you sleep? you don't have to be in front of the computer to use your connection...
    • Here's the big detractor. Their offer boasts 1,025 hours free for the first 45 days. Let's do the math. There are 24 hours in a day, right? OK. So, let's multiply that by 45. The answer is 1,080 hours. Now, we subtract from that the 1,025 hours offered for free. We get 55 hours. Divide those 55 hours by the original 45 days, and you get 1.2222222r. So, in order to use up all of the 1,025 hours in 45 days, a single AOL user would only be able to get 1.22222r hours of sleep per day in the 45 day period.

      Simply put, either the user doesn't get to use all of the free hours, or they die from sleep deprivation trying to get them all in.


      That's why AOL has now begun to distribute methamphetamines with their CD-ROMs. They upped it to 1,080 hours in 45 days. Part of their new license grants AOL as the sole beneficiary of your life insurance policy as well (that's how they *really* make those billions).
  • Not Only AOL (Score:5, Informative)

    by use_compress ( 627082 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @06:04PM (#5206555) Journal
    From http://www.nytimes.com/cnet/CNET_2100-1023-983012. html:
    Microsoft's MSN Internet service reported zero net subscriber growth in the fourth quarter of 2002, holding steady at 9 million subscribers despite the backing of a $350 million advertising campaign for its new MSN 8 service. The company said the lack of growth was offset by a shift to higher-paying customers as various incentive offers came to a close in the last three months of the year.

    Earthlink, the third-largest ISP in the United States, has also seen declines in its dial-up business. The company this week announced massive cutbacks at the company as it moved to outsource its customer-support call centers.

    ...

    The number of free subscribers on the service dropped from 2.9 million in the third quarter to 2.5 million in the fourth.
    • Re:Not Only AOL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @06:25PM (#5206698) Journal
      Well anyone who is paying attention could tell you that dialup is slowing down in the US. The PC market is saturated, fewer new users every year. (my perception). People are moving from modems to broadband and arent being replaced at the same rate... this really should be a suprise to no one.
    • The growth is either in the cheap ISP NetZero/Juno signed up somethign like 1 million subs in the fourth quarter, or in broadband. The RBOCs collectivly matched that number this quarter, too. I don't know what cable looked like but would guess it was somewhere in the 1-1.5 million new subscriber range.
      • Actually, cable TV's subscription rates are declining. In most markets where satellite is competitive (that is to say, markets where the satellites have local TV), the cable cos are hemorraging customers. Admittedly, cable internet may continue to grow, as greater proportions of TV subscribers sign up.

  • So are they all moving to the butterfly [msn.com], or to popup blocker land [earthlink.com], or have they wised up and are (doubtful) speaking easy [speakeasy.net]? At the very least we know they aren't finishing the internet [directvdsl.com]...
  • $15 for BYOA (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    When they upped the Bring Your Own Access plan to $14.95/month is when I dropped after subscribing for years. I found four girlfriends and countless dates on AOL, and they were mostly smart college girls that went to my university or a nearby one. I also found VB programmer chicks, which are fun to talk to for a few minutes, and one even gave me a job lead. But $15/mo on top of my broadband bill is too much.
  • AOL is a national-available service for crying-out-loud!

    Sure, many people may complain about some time of the day when access is 20% to 50% slower, but AOL lets its users roam!

    Broadband is a local service that you can't get up and get access to in another territory! I would subscribe to AOL, but they built their network using Linux and did not create a Linux-client for their PROPRIETARY networking protocol. AOL could be better, like Netzero or Juno, but perhaps they should be a little lighter on the FREEWARE subscriptions because my calculator shows they are passing-on-the-cost-of-freeware to its subscribers.

    AOL *gasp*
    • Sure, many people may complain about some time of the day when access is 20% to 50% slower, but AOL lets its users roam!

      As does Earthlink. So AOL doesn't do anything special in that regard either.
  • ...given the events of the day. [slashdot.org]
  • Some AOL information (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2003 @06:34PM (#5206765)
    AOL are a large international ISP (or IAP in legal terms) whose product is exempt from VAT in Britain, allowing them some headway in undercutting their rivals. They offer an unmetered dialup service from (virtually) any UK address although metering may be involved if your phone line is provided by one of the more unscrupulous telco's (e.g. the ones in many university halls of residence).

    They do not require you to use proprietary email or browser software. They do not disconnect you after a period of inactivity. They do not block any ports, although they transparently re-route outgoing SMTP traffic. Their services are about equal or slightly better in performance than FreeServe (now that's an evil company if ever there was one). Having said all this, their service is occasionally completely shit, connecting at a snails pace and dropping you into limbo usually in the middle of a fraught deathmatch. Most of the time it is OK however.

    Apparently, allowing non-computer-literate people to use the internet (or at least the pertinent popular-interest subset thereof) is some kind of deeply offensive crime in the eyes of some technical people. A few years ago there was an arguable basis for such objections, but now it seems rather like snotty received prejudice. Especially when you consider that AOL is the cheapest (or only) option for unmetered internet access in some parts of this country.

    Their much-maligned corporate anthropomorphisation, Connie, is played on television by model Rachel Willis, who is the sister of one of my ex-flatmates.
    • Having said all this, their service is occasionally completely shit, connecting at a snails pace and dropping you into limbo usually in the middle of a fraught deathmatch.

      Hmmm. When we used AOL (because they were the only company offering flat rate dialup with our cable provider in the UK) I was just getting in to Linux and so ended up learning quite a bit about the way they operate. It's interesting you mention deathmatches, because I found the latency to be so high games against friends were nearly unplayable. A bit of poking around showed that all traffic, apparently regardless of where it actually went to, was routed via New York.

      Rather irritatingly, they also insist on using their own proprietary dialup protocol, meaning that you have to install their own software (if you're on Windows) which of course proceeds to take over your computer. In fact, installing AOL was the last straw for one of my Windows installation, it completely trashed it and I had to reinstall. Needless to say, although the prices were impressive, the ease of use was not.

  • by ejaw5 ( 570071 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @06:38PM (#5206804)
    IMO, AOL never made 'access the mass internet' their selling point. (I heard that with 8.0 you can't minimize the AOL and open up IE to access sites) Instead they emphasized on instant messages, and exclusive AOL chats and games...stuff the kiddies like. Now the AOL users are getting older, and probably now prefer better connectivity than all the time-wasting games. They dont want their hands held anymore. Perhaps users have been enlightened to using URLS and google instead of "AOL keyword"(tm)
  • They lost $99,000,000,000 last year! Their yearly revenue is 1/9th of this; their total market capitalization is only half of this.
    This is an unrecoverable situation, Steve Case and Ted Turner knew it and bailed.

    AOL Enron Worldcom Global Crossing Dot Com.
    • They lost $99,000,000,000 last year!

      Nah. The Feds changed the accounting rules for certain types of mergers. As a result AOL had to make some changes in the the way they state the value of companies they own. The 99,000,000,000 that was appearing on the books never acually existed except perhaps as some ridiculous stock valuation during the peak of the dotbomd sillyness.

  • An insight (Score:3, Funny)

    by superspoon ( 644792 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @06:43PM (#5206844) Journal
    A rather old cartoon, but it makes scence
    Dad vs. AOL [macboy.com]
  • That's like... what... 20 usenet trolls?
  • spam (Score:2, Informative)

    by stuuf ( 587464 )

    Jon Stewart said this on the Daily Show thursday.

    "AOL is an internet provider that can't control spam. They're on version 8 and they haven't figured out that I don't need my mortgage refinanced or my penis enlarged"

    The only things AOL hasn't been advertising are the things people could actually use, like popup and spam blockers, and other reasons I switched to mozilla, not to mention standards compliance. No one cares about parental controls or more smileys for instant messenger. People are finally realizing that AOL's browser and email, etc. isn't as good as other stuff out there.

    Its also slow

  • Teach all your computer illiterate friends and relatives to use broadband. If you can.
    • Teach all your computer illiterate friends and relatives to use broadband. If you can.

      What I don't understand, is why some people (both noobs and geeks) have this idea that broadband is harder to use than AOL. I really don't undestand that. AOL's browser, while horrible, is not really different than any other web browser out there. All browsers have a few basic elements, address bar, back, forward, reload, stop. I really can't see how Moz or IE is harder to use than AOL.

      Of course with most non-aol isps you have to use normal SMTP and POP mail. But these are very, very easy to set up. The ISP can simply just give the users a few instructions to follow. If they don't have a terminally softened brain, it should be fairly easy. Or, they can just use Yahoo mail or something.

      AOL is popular because of a few things:
      1. Many people started out with it. (I did, because early on it was the only ISP in my area. I ditched it 5 years ago when we got a good local isp. Now I have cable) People are used to it.

      2. Marketing. Holy shit to they market a lot.

      3. "Features." I know people who won't switch to a better service because they can't use AIM on another service (Obviously you can get aim for free, but anyway), and, of course, other services are too hard. The perception of other services being hard to use is what keeps a lot of people on AOL.
  • by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @07:32PM (#5207190) Homepage Journal
    But analysts believe the drop in subscribers, however minuscule, could foreshadow a gloomier future for an AOL that has been unable to make the transition to high-speed broadband from its domination of the slow-speed dial-up access market.

    ...

    Amazing. What's the choice a home user has when coming to near-by computer store for byuing new home PC! 1 Ghz PC is a history. Typical HDD is not less than 36GB. 1GB of RAM is no surprise anymore... And "the number one American ISP" is still selling you dial-up access at speed I had in Russia 7 years ago. Amazing.

    And pay attention on what they advertise: email, search, surfing - all features are not unique for AOL but belong to Internet as a whole.

    I don't see AOL doing any investments to improve structuraly their product/service offers. I thing that their strategy is just to take as much money as they can from dial-up and then to invest money to some business that would be (or already is) absolutely unrelated to ISP market.

    Another explanation I see that AOL is still in business is in well known fact that an average American is ignoring everything new as long as possible (compare to Europe or South-East Asia). I won't be wonder if at some day US govt will make a law shutting down dial-up for home users - just to help them with broadband (and to help broadband companies).

    AOL is "the looser number one" on American ISP market.

  • Aside from the fact that AOL is the -most expensive- dialup service I've seen, at a staggering $23.90/month, I mean, even the "Bring your own access" plan at $14.95/month is a rip off, what service to they really offer other then a slightly enhanced version of AOL.com
  • Couldn't one argue that the demise of the AOL monster could cause a boom in the ISP industry as 36 some-odd million people desperately search for a new ISP? Mom-and-pop ISPs could stay in business, mid-level ISPs could afford to roll out more and better broadband, and lowly tech support personnel will be able to keep their jobs and continue to teach old ladies how to reconfigure their Dial-Up Networking.

    This could also have an evolutionary effect. The less capable ISPs will crumble under the huge increase in bandwidth and modem usage, while the ones better suited to survive will prosper and flourish in their influx of new capital and customers.

    The bankruptcy and shut-down of AOL would also release thousands of IT geeks into the newly-created job market to help these smaller ISPs to ride the wave and help create the next generation of the Internet.

    Perhaps one day, with a little help from AOL, the world will be a better place. At least the online one.
  • by Darth_brooks ( 180756 ) <`clipper377' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday February 01, 2003 @08:08PM (#5207406) Homepage
    "apparently due to users becoming more comfortable with broadband connections."

    That's such a great euphamism for users....

    "...getting sick of uncontrollable spam"

    "...growing tired of a 56k line moving at 33.6k"

    "...finding out that instant messaging can be done outside of AOL"

    "...discovering that $23.90 per month is a ripoff for a dial-up service"

    "...learning that you can get on and off line without clicking 'no thanks' to advertising"

    "...finally realizing that they can hookup up to high speed access for another 5 bucks a month without having to deal with bulky client software"

    "...trying to set up 'parental controls' to monitor their children, only to find out that it's not a replacement for watching what you kids do"

    "...finally getting sick of a TOS policy that amounts to nothing more than idiotic bullshit (I CAN TYPE IN CAPS AND NOT GET KICKED OFFLINE!!)"

    I could go on. sadly.
  • No News Here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday February 01, 2003 @08:48PM (#5207670) Homepage Journal
    AOL dropped their matchmaking service, and sold it to match.com. AOL is cleaning up chat rooms, trying to make them less sexual in content (I guess they're leaving that to Yahoo! Messenger now?) So basically that's going to piss off a big percentage of their customer base.

    Also lots of people used AOL because they had more dialup numbers than anyone including Compu$erve (The original use of $ in spoofing tech company names based on their formerly multiple-dollars-per-hour billing schemes, for those too young or oblivious to know) but that hasn't been true for a long time, so they'll lose customers there.

    Third is the internet with training wheels. Users eventually feel confident enough to take them off, and save ten bucks a month in the bargain.

    Finally, AOL is moving away from developing their own internal content, and becoming just another ISP. I guess they feel the internet has reached a critical mass of material which makes it useless to develop subscribers-only content. I disagree entirely, I think that this is the time for MORE subscribers-only content, but whatever.

    The point is, AOL is losing everything that it was, as they transition toward being just another ISP. At their prices and with the annoyance of having to use their software to get connected, why would people use AOL>

    P.S. It's bullshit that they claim they're not signing people up just to claim they have more members. As long as they are still sending out AOL CDs in the mail willy-nilly, and putting them on counters at the post office (USPS-Flavored AOL, could anything be worse? That's like head cheese flavored SPAM) then clearly they are trying to inflate their numbers to artificial levels; They HAVE to know that more people use and discard those things than use and renew. That might not have been true once, I'm sure they had a pretty good retention rate back in the day, but they can't possibly now.

    AOL is dragging TW down. It should be cannibalized for its hardware and its customer base and something entirely different done with both.

  • Just imagine if, instead, hordes of AOL's former customers were kidnapped by gigantic, vaguely anthropomorphic, highly colorful (poisonous?) butterflies.

    I-E-O, O-O. I-E-O, O-O...
  • ICQ didn't manage to pull it off, and neither Yahoo Messenger or Microsoft's Messenger have the community required. What's going to happen to AOL IM if AOL goes the way of Compuserv or Prodigy? As a college student I'm a member of a sort of new AIM generation, I've been there from the beginning, I use AIM far more than the phone, I know people who have computers seemingly devoted to AIM and MP3's. I know that if AIM suddenly lost support, or (I shudder to think) became a pay service, people could easily go to a different chat program but I see the exact same thing happening with AIM that happened with Napster. Sure I can use Kazaa, Morpheus, Audiogalaxy, or any of a multitude of other programs to steal my music, but it's nothing like the days of Napster when everything was in one place. There is substantial advantage to having a single community unified by the piece of software it uses.
    • $10 says when money starts getting really tight, AOL sells off the rights of AIM to another company for many millions of dollars. The advertising they can push through the AIM client is worth quite a bit to the right people. I don't see AIM going anywhere, AOL's fate aside.

  • I'd wager a guess that the percentage of AOL users who unsubscribe is constant. When a user becomes proficient enough to realize that AOL hinders rather than helps their internet experience, they drop it for another, usually less expensive, ISP.

    Yes, I once was an AOL user. Back in the dark ages of 1995-1996. Then we wised up and went with a different ISP, and finally now have a DSL. It's a stepwise process.

    My guess is that AOL simply ran out of new subscribers, and the unsubscription rate, remaining somewhat constant, has now surpassed the subscription rate.
  • by hyrdra ( 260687 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @10:14PM (#5208104) Homepage Journal
    My Grandmother used to have AOL and when I installed SuSe 8 with her new cable modem connection, (didn't want to spend $299 on new Windows, and needed something better than 95) it was hell calling up AOL to cancel. She had been a loyal, light user for several years -- any ISP would love to have her, AOL not withstanding. It took at least three calls and several "free 3 month" offers to finally get them to cancel.

    These people had her so confused she was even doubting me. They basically said she wouldn't be able to save her AOL contacts, or access the same web sites, on her new service without subscribing to the alternative access plan (bring your own access), to use AOL-only services over her cable connection.

    Finally after the 3rd call it was done, not without another fight with another rep. They must get paid based upon how many members they can keep from disconnecting. I remember when I had AOL a long time ago when it was the only ISP with a local number, you could cancel as simply as going to keyword: cancel. Now that seems to have changed, and it speaks in their member retention rates as they fight tooth and nail to hold on to the last of their shrinking subscriber base.
  • ... and i'll say it again. AOL is a halfway house to the internet for anyone too stupid to use otherwise.
  • from The Independent [independent.co.uk]:
    Last week AOL Time Warner, a colossal empire whose products vary from Harry Potter films to Now magazine, reported it had made a loss of $99bn in 2002
    and
    Now AOL is taking drastic action to reduce its $27bn debt, first spinning off the cable division. There is speculation the book publishing and music divisions might be sold off to raise money, and even Time magazine could be on the block. The new chairman, Dick Parsons, must be fuming about the potential loss of these media gems, sacrificed to solve a problem aggravated by internet silliness.


    Didn't the words "Don't", "Put", "Eggs", "All", "One" and "Basket" ever occur to them?

    No-one ever found stability by cooking the books and following the twisted whims of their investors. Say no to gambling, kids.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    AOL once made leaving so difficult (in terms of the barriers erected against finding the information needed to unsubscribe) that it's not surprising there hasn't been a higher rate of defections. Also I think you could only do it by snail mail. I'm guessing that nowadays they make this information accessible, and perhaps even allow electronic unsubscription, leading to a faster dropout rate than arrival rate.

    And once people leave, they don't come back, so their growth is limited by a dwindling pool of victims.
  • Is "Yahoo!" the site or an exclamation in reaction to the article?

  • If AOL counts each screen name as a discrete "member"
    Doing so could create a distorted perception of the number of paying subscribers.

Egotist: A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. -- Ambrose Bierce

Working...