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AOL Hopes to Change Image With Services 197

Geoffrey writes "'In an effort to earn a new reputation as a leading Internet destination, AOL will open up to a wider audience on the Web through The portal will re-launch in beta form on Tuesday, offering visitors free Web mail, exclusive audio and video content, and access to a number of AOL services previously available only to subscribers,' reports BetaNews. The new will highlight news from the blogosphere, offer free access to 15,000 videos, 130 radio stations, and 20 XM stations. In addition, AOL is launching an RSS aggregator that aims to make RSS actually simple for normal Web users. And unlike MSN's RSS endeavor, My AOL will work in Firefox, Safari and other browsers."
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AOL Hopes to Change Image With Services

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  • Frankly.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aldatur ( 893868 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:21PM (#12873725)
    I think that AOL will always have a stigma with geeks of being a piece of crap. And to tell you the truth, I have a bad feeling that this new service set will only confirm that stereotype.
  • I don't know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by udderly ( 890305 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:23PM (#12873752)
    Does anyone out there think that this will work? Personally, I think that the only thing that has kept AOL from folding is the sheer size of their original user base. But they are dropping off like flies due to broadband.

    I would be very surprised if they could pull this off.
  • Oh great.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slummy ( 887268 ) <> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:23PM (#12873758) Homepage
    Sounds to me like a bait 'n switch. If they're going to offer these free services, rest assured they're going to try and pound a subscription up your ass every step of the way.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:24PM (#12873778)
    AOL is launching an RSS aggregator that aims to make RSS actually simple

    I notice they don't intend to change what kind of users they want to attract. I mean, how hard is it to use RSS these days? it's just one click to install a RSS newsreader (unless they're running into Bezos' patent or something).
  • Re:I don't know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chris09876 ( 643289 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:28PM (#12873822)
    I predicted about 10 years ago that AOL would die, and they're still alive (struggling, but still kicking). I still think that the demise of AOL is coming (and long overdue), but they seem to find new ways to stay alive (becoming part of Time Warner, etc).

    I would also be surprised if they could pull something like this off... the internet portal market is already quite crowded. I just don't see room for another yahoo-type service
  • by mislam ( 755292 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:28PM (#12873825) Homepage
    I am sorry to say this but just because all the services that they are now happily giving away will NOT make them a better service provider. If they could not provide good service to customers who paid 23.95/month how can anyone expect that the free users will get a better service?
  • Good job, AOL. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Leroy_Brown242 ( 683141 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:31PM (#12873867) Homepage Journal
    You have the user base

    You have the manpower

    You have the money.

    Now go forth and make yourself into an ISP that doesn't suck.

    There is a long road ahead of you though.
  • by Iriel ( 810009 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:34PM (#12873888) Homepage
    I'm not even sure that's really the problem with AOL. Most of these services are already being provided by independant web sites or are rolled into the user homepage of many broadband ISPs. Why bother going to another page to get substandard audio/video feeds when your SBC/Roadrunner/whatever homepage does most (if not all) of that for you? I don't think anybody is really in the mood for another AOL browser on top of this.

    Most people I know don't even associate AIM with AOL, and when that's the case, providing content that's been available through other portals for years will be quite a stretch to save the company. Catching up with the times alone will take a lot of work, but they can't be 'as modern as their competitors' to survive. They're going to need to be much more advanced to shoot past everyone else and escape the grim fate that looms overhead.
  • Too much mindshare (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:36PM (#12873918) Homepage Journal

    AOL has brand name recognition with just about everyone in the U.S. The trouble is, when I think of AOL I think of those stacks of CDs in the Wal-Mart checkout isle and the endcaps at supermarkets. I don't think about any content I'd like to see there, despite the number of "content parters" they've signed up over the years.

    It's the same reason Compuserve is such a non-player on the Internet. The industry shifted out from underneath them.

    AOL wasted way too much corporate energy convincing their customers that they were the Internet, and didn't expend enough effort drawing in non-AOL dialup users with their content. Didn't they sign up exclusive content, so you couldn't get there unless you subscribed to AOL?

    They're now paying for misreading the market, for not realizing that the money was in clicks, not in subscriptions.

  • Yes and No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gruneun ( 261463 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:39PM (#12873939)
    A few years ago, I'm sure plenty of people told the Google guys that they were a few years too late for making a search engine.

    AOL's problem is the Internet-for-beginners stigma that's attached to their name. My bet is the better move would be to dump their millions into a new brand, push their current user base towards it, and hope the non-AOL users will underestimate the connection.
  • Re:Sorry AOL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scaba ( 183684 ) <joe.joefrancia@com> on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @01:52PM (#12874074)

    Like Nokia. They started out [] making rubber boots and toilet paper.

  • AOL's problem? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Solr_Flare ( 844465 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:04PM (#12874212)
    - Bloated Client
    - Treating its clients poorly
    - Making the dollar its first and highest priority, and being obvious about it.
    - Not truly changing with the times, instead just putting a new gloss(and more bloat)to its same, tired, design.
    - Using spam type methods to try and hook new users(the famous coasters).

    They did this to themselves through years of mismanagement and just settling for the status quo. They forgot they got to the top by out-innovating the competition like compuserve and prodigy, and making a smooth efficient internet portal for the time. Its like what happened to Netscape. Netscape was "the" browser because it was small, fast, efficient, and clean. When it bloated it died and took it mozilla and a reversion to its original design to bring it back.

    The question is, can AOL really revert and recover from 10 years of bad reputation? I don't think it ever will.
  • Breaker 1-9 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HomerJayS ( 721692 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @02:37PM (#12874593)
    In 1978 everyone had to have a CB radio. In 2000 everyone had to be in an IRC chatroom. In 2005 everyone has to have a blog. Same sh*t, different box.
  • Re:Sorry AOL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joelsanda ( 619660 ) on Tuesday June 21, 2005 @03:19PM (#12875009) Homepage
    Time to move on, do it gracefully, help your employees move on ...

    Maybe that's what they're doing now? "Closing up shop, as you call it, is just stupid if they can reinvent who they are and evolve.

    Ford made cars that were overtaken by technological advances in automobile design. They didn't "close up shop" - they evolved and improved their product (I drive a Jeep, so that's an assumption).

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle