AOL shutting down Xdrive, Bluestring and more…

In AOL’s quest to profit solely from advertising placed on websites, in email and in IM clients, they are slowly but surely dumping almost every subscription-based business they own. The most recent victims are Xdrive, Bluestring, AOL Pictures, AIM World (I can’t find anything on it except this MySpace page so I think AOL might mean they’re shutting down AIM soon) and MyMobile.

MyAOL is also rumored to be “sunsetting” soon and rumors have AOL selling the dial-up subscription business by August, which is only another week from now. We’ll see. In the meantime…

AOL does not offer much of a Plan B to anyone using services that are about to get closed down. The most AOL’s spokespeople will say about the fate of those services is this:

AOL will try to sell Xdrive, AOL Pictures and Bluestring so that existing users of those services will be able to transition to a new provider, but if no buyer is found, the products will be shut down by the end of the year…

If the services are closed, AOL plans to either burn end users’ content into CDs and DVDs and send it to them or walk them through how to save the photos, videos and other media to local hard drives…

Which translates to:

“If we don’t sell these services real soon you had better pray we burn your data to cheap discs and get’m in the mail within 6-8 weeks…and that we get your street address right, while we’re at it.”

Puh-lease. Here’s my advice.

DON’T WAIT for AOL to get off their tushes to do something (stupid) for you. Get your data off of Xdrive, AOL Pictures and Bluestring now.

It will cost AOL a small fortune to burn your data to CDs and DVDs, not to mention I’m unsure if they can do so legally since it requires their employees to enter your account to burn your data and puts your private files on physical media that can be played back by anybody at AOL before it ever gets sent by snail mail to you (yes, I can feel another big AOL data leak coming on – watch out!).

In the meantime, do you have an Xdrive account? If you do sign up for a free or low-cost service like Adrive and transfer your data from AOL to them now. Adrive offers a pretty sweet deal: 50GBs free storage space with all the bells and whistles Xdrive has and more.

Do you use AOL Pictures and/or Bluestring? If you do get a free – or low-cost if you prefer – Photobucket account now. Photobucket handles videos, slideshows, regular pictures, gives you all the embed codes you need, allows you to sort media into albums and galleries and to edit, crop, and tag everything.

Remember that this is me suggesting you move your data and media to these services and that traditionally I am hard to please (and getting harder to please by the day). The fact that I hate almost everything should be enough to convince you that Adrive and Photobucket are good choices.

In other news, a while ago AOL spent almost $850 million to buy Bebo, a social networking site much like MySpace. Yet AOL’s CEO Jeff Bewkes says he wasted AOL’s money on Bebo. He doesn’t really care, he’s “just sayin'”, but most senior AOL managers cared plenty.

That’s just one reason why you the customer will soon go without your Xdrive, Bluestring, and AOL Picture accounts…because AOL has got to pay for Bebo somehow, and the services you actually pay AOL to use aren’t making enough money to cover Bebo’s cost.

It’s a sad day for AOL customers who had faith AOL would do the right thing by them…sorry, but Time Warner is looking to dump AOL to the highest bidder as fast as they can, so free yourself from AOL’s clutches now. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” – don’t say I didn’t warn you.