Asking why AOL screws up nearly everything they touch is like asking why the sun shines on a clear day, but I’m a sucker for tradition, and for two years running I’ve done so, so why not a third? It’s reasonable to expect this is the last Top 5 I’ll ever do on AOL since the company is dying. With no further ado, AOL’s top five blunders of 2008:
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:
I’m heartened to learn AOL is moving their headquarters next spring from Dulles Virginia, where they’ve been situated since 1985, to NY City, since I won’t be there.
The new location is a place I missed working at by just a hair some years ago: 770 Broadway, a floor above a company I almost transferred to about 12 years ago. I lived on Long Island at the time surrounded by farms and fields, and I liked the scenery, so I turned the move down, and wound up leaving New York, anyway. Now if I move back I know where not to uh…shop.
AOL’s air-brained Randy Falco claims moving to NY will send:
I have a tutorial to write and an older post to rework and republish this week, and I’d like to do a rip, I mean, a review of myAOL and Mgnet, but I’ll touch quickly on what’s going on this week with AOL…wow, not much isn’t.
First off, if you haven’t heard about AOL’s class-action settlement with 47 states by now (or 48, if you count the one state that didn’t participate but is covered, and if you conveniently forget the District of Columbia altogether, which is also covered) you probably don’t have a pulse.
Fortune Magazine says Time Warner, their parent company, is in talks with Yahoo! to buy AOL. A source at TW denies it, but Yahoo! sources say it’s true. Yahoo! lost their chance last year after AOL inked a deal to give Google 5% of revenue in return for ads and search optimization that AOL lacks over dynamically linked pages and other shortcomings. They haven’t made the how-to-cancel page much easier to find, either.
No Ads on Wikipedia, For Now … AOL Sells Call Centers; Others to Close
10-28-2006: Jason Calacanis, who runs Netscape for AOL and thinks he can wave his Magic Money Wand and buy the world, and even buy your humble author (page no longer exists ), tried to buy Wikipedia last week. He claims by not letting AOL put leaderboards on Wiki pages, they’ll lose ad revenue to the tune of $100 million a year. “Jimbo” Wales rolled Jason’s offer around, even asking members what they’d do with that money. Then in a stunning about-face he told Jason “No,” and was applauded for not letting AOL’s sponsorship control Wikipedia.
10-14-2006: The Consumerist says AOL’s laying off 1,400 call reps “trained to trick you into not canceling your AOL account,” when they close their Albuquerque, NM, and Tucson, AZ centers and sell their Ogden, UT call center “in mid-December, just in time for Christmas.” Wow, not even an AOL-branded lump of coal for brainwashing us into thinking we must have it: “Free anti-virus software! Parental controls! Keywords! (give me a f***ing break) Ads, ads, more ads, AIM, chat rooms!” Oh wait, maybe they don’t say all that…The Consumerist is clucking unhappily that the Ogden center’s been sold to a company that will hang onto every AOL employee except John, but it’s quite common for AOL to outsource them. Contract workers can’t be much worse, I promise you.