I’m asking because one of my primary annoyances is not having an all-in-one browser/IM/email client to usher ex-AOL users to once they’re ready to quit AOL. For years I’ve wanted to be able to say to them, “There’s this program named X that works just like AOL does, with instant messaging, email, and browsing all in one client, but it runs on a more modern layout engine, loads more pages the right way than AOL or IE does, and it’s safer to use and more enjoyable than AOL.”
Outside of SeaMonkey, there is nothing on the market that I know of that can replace not just what AOL has, but the way AOL combines it all into one client. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to just use Firefox and say, Yahoo! webmail and/or Outlook if you like, and to keep an AIM or MSN client on the computer for chat, but for people who have used AOL forever and like having all three tools ready-to-go in one browser, having a replacement for that would make it much easier for them to move away from AOL.
While I like SeaMonkey for it’s strong Mozilla/Gecko backbone, it falls short of what I’d want to see ex-AOLers using for several reasons: the GUI is out-of-date and would need a complete re-write to bring it up to today’s standards, you can’t use too many Firefox add-ons or any Firefox themes with it, and the few SeaMonkey themes that are available are getting pretty old. SeaMonkey crashes a lot, and it does not work with AOL’s SMTP (at least, not as of last night). It doesn’t include any modern chat, just Chatzilla/IRC.
I would like to see a more modernized version of the SeaMonkey client, or an entirely new client that is simply a fork of the old project. That would keep the price of moving away from AOL as low as possible (free) and make it more tempting and a little easier to cancel AOL, knowing a full replacement that works pretty much like the AOL client does is already lined up, ready and waiting for people on their computers.
Short of that, if a pay project for a non-open source client was to be started for such a thing, I was thinking that just charging a small amount for the first, say, 10,000 downloads (maybe $1?) could pay all of the costs, which would keep the browser free later on for the majority of people who will use it.
Unfortunately, I can’t code, so I can’t write and publish such a program, but if anyone has any ideas for such a project, please drop me a comment here or email me with what you think.
Maybe this is not the “cool” or “in” thing to say, but I think such a client could have potential well beyond the AOL crowd. How cool would it be if you could combine browsing, email, IM (or maybe an embedded Meebo page), along with Twitter, Facebook and Flock-like “Post to such and such site” tools into one client? Because, seriously, it’s a pain to open Firefox, AIM, and Digsby, then jump back and forth between all the windows, plus it can put a big strain on a computer’s RAM and CPU – at least on older computers, which a lot of us (like me!) still have.