Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



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

AOL Plans to Offer Free Webmail 211

UltimaGuy writes "AOL plans to offer a free webmail service to compete directly with Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail. Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AOL Plans to Offer Free Webmail

Comments Filter:
  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:37AM (#11167625) Homepage Journal

    Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?

    Conversely I think AOL is trying to enforce what it is: a portal to their own services and the internet. Once a user is using AOL's mail package then AOL can put whatever it wants on their mail webpage much like MS does with Hotmail. "Want to chat with Britney and Justin? Join AOL for $FOO and be here Saturday night!"

    AOL is a business, businesses don't do "free" without some catch. Their free mail offering is nothing more than a hook to get the AOL brandname back into peoples' minds.
    • by snoyberg ( 787126 ) <snoyberg AT user ... rceforge DOT net> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:43AM (#11167689) Homepage

      I hope you're not trying to put a negative spin on that. Frankly, I think it's great that AOL's involved. Look what happened when Google entered the market: competition drove the quality of all the other products way up. Capitilism at its best.

      I really don't think AOL will catch on to be nearly as big as the other three mentioned, but I don't begrudge them doing what's in their best economic interest.

    • by Havokmon ( 89874 ) <rick@h[ ]kmon.com ['avo' in gap]> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:52AM (#11167785) Homepage Journal
      AOL is a business, businesses don't do "free" without some catch. Their free mail offering is nothing more than a hook to get the AOL brandname back into peoples' minds

      Ahhh but as a 'free' webmail provider myself, I can tell you the conversion rate from free to "paid something" is quite small. They're going to have to pull in a LOT of free users, or provide something out of the ordinary to get people to pay up.

      I wouldn't suggest trying to leverage 'free' into 'paid' as a business model.

    • Once a user is using AOL's mail package then AOL can put whatever it wants on their mail webpage much like MS does with Hotmail.

      Last time I checked I still had a free Netscape.com e-mail address... which is owned by AOL. So technically I have free webmail from AOL through Netscape already. Not that I ever used it, but I have a 250 meg quota there. Why in the hell would I want something@aol.com as my e-mail address? AOL is for losers.

    • Innovation (Score:2, Funny)

      by unixfun ( 596260 )
      I can hear it now -- AOL's innovative feature that separates it from the rest is..... "You've got Webmail!". Groan....
    • Financially solvent?
  • I see a vision... it's the year 2008... and AOL's bankrupt! Yay! Seriously though, how does AOL expect to compete? They definitely don't have the WOW that Google has, and they don't have the marketing that Micrsoft has. What do they have? I'm more than happy to hear your opinion, 'cause I sure as hell don't know.
    • They have legions of customers who sincerely believe that they can't have e-mail or web access without going through AOL.

      Seriously.

      • I'll agree with that. I have tried countless times to explain to people that there is an internet outside of AOL, but they don't seem to get it.

        This is why AOL still has business. People are not educated enough to know that there is an Internet outside of AOL, or they are too scared to try something new. Why has AOL been plumeting? People are waking UP.

        AOL's biggest fault was not growing with the Internet. They were not paying attention to what people outside of AOL were capable of doing. A
    • it's the year 2008... and AOL's bankrupt!

      Time Warner would have to spin off AOL first for that to happen.

      Seriously though, how does AOL expect to compete?

      As a loss leader perhaps, in the same way as Microsoft Xbox?

    • AOL Instant Messanger. Kids these days think that there is no other way to communicate.
    • Well lets see, they have a huge subscriber base already. The rest of the world is currently unaware google will be offering a free email service, and get this, all the non techies I have sent invites to have rejected them on privacy grounds. And lets face it, everyone has a hotmail account and knows its best use is for spam attracting, anonymous junk sign ups. Plenty of room for a quality service if AOL can provide it.
    • They have Time Warners abslutely humongus Movie collection that they could stream on demand to people over the internet using their service (if you have a fast connection).
  • Answer (Score:1, Troll)

    Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not??

    What, something that doesn't suck, as opposed to something that does?

    Doubtful.
  • "Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?"

    What, a half generous, decent company? Yeah, probably.
  • They do dialup So Well.. What makes you think they caint do free email :) This should be interesting
  • Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?

    An internet service provider?! YES!
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:40AM (#11167658)
    "Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?"

    It's not what it was. When they are hemorrhaging so many users a month, they are no longer succeeding at being an ISP. Looks like they are branching out to see if something else works. Like Apple trying out the iPod "experiment".:Their Newton experiment didn't work too well, but this one by golly seems to be paying off.

    However, I don't see this helping AOL that much. I don't think that the webmail field is all that lucrative, and it is very crowded with competitors (even including Hotmail) getting better.

  • ... every two-bit online op can have webmail if they want it.

    What's new and innovative here? that's the real question. Or are AOL continuing to play the Wal-Mart of ISPs?
  • Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?

    Has AOL ever stopped trying to become something it is not?
  • by Xpilot ( 117961 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:41AM (#11167665) Homepage
    Wow, wouldn't you love to have a free webmail address with the AOL brandname attached to it, so you can email your friends with? Nothing says class, prestige and superior social status like a free webmail AOL address! Where do I sign up?

    • ..oh, for this one you can't just sign up, you have to be "Invited" by somebody else!

    • Nothing says class, prestige and superior social status like a free webmail AOL address with a name like Jason2354695, because every decent user ID is already taken.
    • Wow, wouldn't you love to have a free webmail address with the AOL brandname attached to it, so you can email your friends with? Nothing says class, prestige and superior social status like a free webmail AOL address! Where do I sign up?

      Even in decline, AOL has 23 million solidly middle class subscribers, none of whom has ever given a damn what a Geek thinks about the service and could care less if you have a Gmail account.

    • Because that's what I look for in a technology product. I don't want soemthing functional,usefull, or practical unless its got some bling. You know, something extra that will make people thing that I'm an amazing person when they look at me. Its like my car, I could just drive a ford, but I prefer driving a Jaguar. Sure its just a label, but people need to know how much better I am then them in a quick glance. In fact I soon plan on enscribing my name on the moon with a giant laser, just so everyone down he
  • by Haxwell ( 229790 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:41AM (#11167675) Homepage
    Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?

    I think it would be good for most people to become something which they are not.

  • Uh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by empee ( 219598 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:41AM (#11167676)
    Uh, so I can get a webmail account on a domain where there are already 20million+ usernames taken?

    Great! I get to be Mike86554319234@aol.com.
    • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Mike86554319233 ( 843031 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @12:20PM (#11168633)
      You insensitive clod!
    • Exactly what I was thinking when I read the headline.

      I haven't found it in TFA, but maybe they will use a different domain for the address. Something like @aim.com (since they want to link some of the functions of both services this somehow would make sense).

      Or they could use an idea from Compuserve - in the good old days they *only* allowed numbers in your address. So you had something like 49823749823@compuserve.com. That used to be extremely handy and nobody complained that their name was already in us
  • Features (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gryftir ( 161058 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:41AM (#11167678) Homepage
    The beta doesn't even go public to non-aol subscribers until later in 2005. Currently it is limited to the 100MB given to AOL users, and they haven't given any indication that will change.

    Considering Hotmail and Yahoo mail have upgraded to 250MB, about the only thing going for it is the AIM integration.
  • by saterdaies ( 842986 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:42AM (#11167685)
    I remember when Apple started charging for its .Mac stuff. Steve Jobs said that the free internet was over. Well, it seems to have rebounded. Gmail now offers 1GB of storage and everyone else seems to be going that way too. The problem is that AOL is becoming less useful. They were offering their subscribers a tiny email box and dial-up access for $24 per month. At the same time, they could get nearly identical service - often better - from others for less than half that price. Heck, you can get it from AOL for less than half the price under their Netscape brand. This has led AOL to loose, I think, 4 million subscribers recently.

    AOL never came up with a good broadband strategy and they never came up with content or tools that the internet didn't match or better. Put that together and AOL just doesn't look like a good value. With this strategy, AOL is trying to correct that mistake and leverage the AOL brand to offer things on the same playing field as its competitors.
    • Heck, you can get it from AOL for less than half the price under their Netscape brand.

      Two different products. AOL offers playpen interweb for the technically illiterate, or did when I last ran a trial disk (a while back now).

      Other ISPs don't have the sandbox thing going, so I guess that's AOL's selling point.

      BUT, they are kind of abandoning it here, in the sense that they're going to be 'adulterating' the brand. I'm trying to look at this in terms of branding and not seeing the logic. maybe AOL have go
    • Free in terms of money perhaps, however as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a "free lunch".

      Looking at Gmail, sure it's free of charge but there is the cost of privacy invasion in some people's eyes. I don't personally have a problem with that myself as Gmail is a nice little tool and worth the "cost" involved. And it really is the same with the high majority of services and products.

      Using an offline example, commercial Digital Radio in the UK is completely free of charge, but the cost of broadcast

    • I have friends who used iTools (before .Mac) and they told me that before Apple started charging, it was the largest corporate warez distributor in America. Lots of users were simply abusing their 100 MB of free space to post warez, serials, etc., and Apple was too overwhelmed to fix the problem.

      Now that Gmail can be used as a file system, I expect lots of people to abuse their 1 GB of free storage. Then Google will clamp down and impose limitations or (gasp) start charging! Remember, it's BETA so it ca
  • Ok, AOL is launching the service to compete with Google, Hotmail and Yahoo but I can't see any incentive to sign up. It doesn't seem to offer anything new or innovative as there's nothing mentioned that can't be gained from any pre-existing service and, from my own personal experience with AOL, I'd be hesitant to sign up for any service. Their pre-existing customers wont really be affected, and I doubt anyone else will be too bothered about it either.
    • Especially now with Yahoo! Mail offering 250 megabytes of storage for free and 2 gigabytes of storage for paid members. Not to mention what happens when Google Mail finally goes out of beta test. Even smaller portal sites like MyWay.com are offering 125 megabytes of email storage for free.
  • One problem... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by koreaman ( 835838 )
    If any of you got banned from aim, you will remember that AOL's DB admins are all idiots. I wouldn't want to trust my email to that.
    • ... you will remember that AOL's DB admins are all idiots.

      Refresh my memory again... was it a database administration problem, or a programming problem?

  • by acomj ( 20611 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:44AM (#11167701) Homepage
    This isn't such a strech. They already have AOL available from the web (with a decent client). And Pop3/Imap for aol mail.

    This will be like IM which is free for non AOL members, this will make paying for there service much less Desirable. I guess the AOL Everywhere initiative isn't panning out.

    We used to use aol at work for a second "on site email" address. It had these things going for it: local numbers everywhere, a 1-800 number to dial in when all else fails. It was the travelers friend. Now with web mail and most hotels having some limited wifi, its much less usefull.

    Good for consumers though
    • do they actually offer pop3 mail for subscribers now? the biggest issue i had with using aol was that i had other email addresses that i couldn't send mail from when i was connected to aol. they don't have an smtp server that i could use to send mail (actually they did at one point and turned off access to it to send mail from outside addresses). i no longer use aol, this was years ago. i haven't seen it in a long time.
  • So what innovative features will AOL WebMail Support?

    1) Advanced URL that allows you to access your email from any computer in the world! No extra software required (*).

    2) Up to and over 100 Megabytes of Lightening Fast Mail Storage! (again, no real details in article)

    3) Your own personal email address, which is yours and yours alone. Allowing your friends and family to easily remember it and send you email!

    4) Super-duper spam blocker. Prevents 90% of the email originating from AOL from leaving AOL!
  • by jamesbuko ( 840871 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (okubsemaj)> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:45AM (#11167707)
    Ok who wants AOL Mail Invites?...I have 6 to give out...
  • AOL is in a serious crunch - they were losing the low cost ($9.95 and below) dialup business (so they got into it - don't they own both Netscape and peoplepc?). Their ad revenue is falling so they get into the free email business - make sense (sorta). Their foray into broadband failed. They are just grasping at straws at this point, I think.
  • by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:47AM (#11167732) Journal
    "Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?"

    1. AOL is a Internet technology compnay. Email is part of it. AOL is a customer service company. Email serves customers.
    2. Who cares if AOL does something different. Does it really matter? Or is this where we all bash one company (MS, AOL, Walmart, **AA) for doing something, yet praise another company (Apple, RedHat) for doing the exact same thing.
    3. You don't need to have the stupid lead-in questions that can be answered with a Yes or No. People will still not read the article and post comments. Even in duplicate stories.
  • They can hire back some of the folks they laid off to develop this and then they can lay them off again right before executive bonus time next year.
  • Yes (Score:1, Troll)

    by ThogScully ( 589935 )
    Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?
    Yes. Relevant.
    -N
  • This makes no sense. How will AOL benefit if it can't install enough spyware and adware on your computer to bring it to a crawl? I had to install the demon on my work computer, since AOL users were not able to keep sessions on our server due to its proxy farms. It tries to run 4 background apps, one of which eats 11M of memory which claims to be a spyware blocker. Right. Due to the proxy farms browsing with AOL over DSL is like going back to 1994 over 14.4 dialup. It took 30 seconds to get pages which
  • Sure it would be a good idea to get an @aol.com mail account. They block [slashdot.org] my mail [aol.com]. I block their mail. After all, spam for spam is a good trade.
  • by Retrospecter ( 807978 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @10:57AM (#11167832)
    Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?"

    This reminds of of when that crazy search engine Google said they were gonna do webmail. Nice try Google! We all know you're just a search engine!

  • Hmmm.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by macthulhu ( 603399 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @11:02AM (#11167864)
    As an employee of The Death Star... errrr... Time Warner, I think it's safe to say that the only way this thing will work, is if they outsource their IT jobs. If the clowns running it now are the ones they rely on to keep it up and running right, it will die a quick embarrasing death. I mean, these are guys who remotely access everyone's computers at night and remove printer drivers for the printers they shipped us... Or disable all of the audio hardware on laptops used for presentations... Then they get all peeved when their phones start ringing. I realize that's a small issue, as long as it's not your printer, but it's indicative of the sharpness of the tools in our shed.

    I have to go now... there are some men here to escort me to the re-education chamber for speaking out about our hard working, highly skilled IT workers.

  • AOL owns Netscape, which already has free webmail - granted, it isn't the greatest and doesn't have the AOL branding, but it's still in existence.
  • Jeepers. What kind of clown announces that -- in six months -- they will roll out a web based service that was state of the art eight years ago?

    Do they think people will hold off getting a Hotmail account so they can have those three little letters that say so much instead?

    If there's a stock analyst covering this sector who doesn't really understand this 'internets' thing, that's who this announcement is directed at.

  • They have been a webmail provider for years. Ever since they bought Netscape. I have an account there at www.netscape.com.

    So, just what is new? Not webmail. Features maybe...

  • Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?

    AOL has always been trying to become something which it is not. Fast. Reliable. Relevant.

    They gave up- now their commercials just sell AOL as easy to use and "the 'in' thing".

  • Meaning what, a viable company?

    ~D
  • I've yet to see a web application as good as a comparable client application.
  • The question is really, why does someone stick with a service. Any service from an Amex card to AOL. If you have a paid AOL with the "paid" email account, and then you go and buy Broadband some place else... and then you quit AOL do you get to convert your previously paid email/screen name to the free account. (I assume you can't).

    As long as you can't convert paid accounts to unpaid, they have no risk. Your hotmail or google account is only taking away from their brand "power" (% of market share).

    If they
  • AOL owns and operates netscape.net, which offers webmail and other services. Every AIM account has a corresponding netscape.net email account. If you register the Netscape browser, you create an AIM screenname and therefore a netscape.net email account.
  • Well, seeing that GMail is down and AOLMail is not yet available, I guess AOL has already caught up with GMail ;-)
  • Hm, I probably could use another email address...
  • Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?"

    Well, it'd be kinda silly to try and become something that it already is, wouldnt it?
  • by gone.fishing ( 213219 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @11:35AM (#11168169) Journal
    Most companies look at things from the perspective of "Will it make us money?" I'm sure AOL is not different. I'd say that someone came up with an idea, researched it and presented it to the managment team and was able to convince them that somehow, someway there was enough potential there for them to make money so they decided to do it.

    Frankly, I kind of like the idea of an AOL email account. I can give people an address I'll never check!
    • Most companies look at things from the perspective of "What is the latest fad that that we could we could belatedly join (and obviously, utterly fail to understand)?" I'm sure AOL is not different. I'd say that someone noticed everyone else is doing it, quickly came up with a few shiny Powerpoint slides right before bonus time and presented it to the managment team and was able to convince them that if everyone is doing it, somehow, someway there was enough potential there for them to make money so they dec
      • You are pretty close to right. I've been in the position where I've had an idea that showed a great deal of promise. I sold the idea to my bosses and had the opportunity to present it to managment. The idea was obvious and stood a great chance of working; the risk to the company was utterly zero, and the profit potential was very high.

        The first question the managers asked me was: "Why isn't anyone else doing it?" The second question was: "Can you show us real numbers?" They actually looked for excuses
    • Funny how it took them 8+ years to figure this out, and only after most of their competitors have started offering it.

      More like, those greedy Aohell basturds were forced into it.
  • "Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?" Do you mean profitable? Seriously though, AOL has lost it's main reason to exist; massive amounts of newbies who are willing to use dial-up. Many of these newbies have, technologically speaking, grown up, and dial-up isn't desirable compared to broadband for most regions and applications. Any business that expects to survive long-term must constantly adapt to consumer preferences, which necessitates that the business constantly reinvent
  • AOL was origionally just a glorifed Paid BBS. Like Prodigy, or Compuserve. Then to stay competive it Added Internet Email Support then With more and more internet access until it became reconized as being the internet by most. Then it began to push in the instant messageing direction after success with ICQ. And now it is pushing its web mail. It is a way to keep people interested in using AOL and not switch to something else while allowing them to comunicate eaislly with non members.
  • A FREE webmail account when you sign up for 50 FREE HOURS!
  • by syle ( 638903 ) <syle AT waygate DOT org> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @12:45PM (#11168850) Homepage
    Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?

    No more than Google is. Remember when it was a search engine? AOL has been doing email for years.

  • Does this mean AOL is trying to become something which it is not?"

    ....that AOL is changing part of its business model in an attempt to increase its ad-supported client base and hopefully its paying client base. There is nothing wrong with this. Why is the author trying to downplay AOL because they are evolving, or should we have AOL go out of business? Remember, they did help a great deal to get people on the net. They may not be the best service, but for the longest time they were.

    Just a note -
  • AOL now all of a sudden is promoting free web based e-mail?

    That makes me think one thing: AOL is getting desperate. AOL has been fading for the last few years (since 2000).

    AOL is having a hard time keeping people, because now even their usual base of idiot customers have realized that AOL does not equal the Internet. (Remember when people though AOL and the Internet were the same thing? [Shudders])

    Less and less people want to pay for a glorified BBS with Internet Access, when for less money (on other the
  • It used to be that I would tell my less than technical friends "Oh, don't use AOL, it's a ripoff." Now, it's what I recommend, and I think AOL offering free webmail is a great idea.

    I don't like the fact that AOL is HUGE, or that it started the snowball that destroyed the mom-and-pop ISP industry (the admins at shore.net taught me unix when I was 12) but I do like the idea of a private network that seperates users who are not technical users from the internet at large. I want someone to hold users hands - i
  • The difference between AOL and Google is that Google just does it. They don't send out press releases, generate hype, and create vaporware.

    --
  • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )
    mail@netscape.net , is IMAP over netscape 7.x, does have spam filter via program itself (netscape 7.x).

    Thank you.
  • From what history has shown Aol to be, I could care less what they offer.

    Aol is the king of shameless advertising. Back in the 97-98 I had Aol. Every time I logged on there would be popup ads. Everywhere I turned I would get more of the same, ads ads ads. With a 28kbps modem, it was pure hell having to wait for their damn ads when all I wanted to do was check my mail.

    Then there was Netscape, after Aol bought them out. I used to like their browser, but then it turned to crap fast. I couldn't use the

"The identical is equal to itself, since it is different." -- Franco Spisani

Working...