Ten years ago, Time Warner bought AOL. I never understood why, but then they tell me I don't really understand business. That is very true, though I suspect my detractors and I are not in agreement on the thing about business that I don't understand.
What I don't understand is the propensity for otherwise intelligent people to buy into the smoke being blown up their nether regions.
Nonetheless, I'm sure several people cried over the loss of AOL to Time Warner, cried all the way to the bank.
Time Warner ten years ago was well on its way to providing broadband Internet access to households. Think RoadRunner.
AOL provided dialup Internet access and a host of net gadgets designed to make it unnecessary to ever leave the AOL websites.
Email was about all I used the AOL site for. After that, I launched IE, and toodled forth across the net all on my own.
With RoadRunner, I could do that same thing with a lot more speed, and I could noodle over to Yahoo! or Hotmail and check my email from anywhere.
Time Warner had trouble seeing that net access was the commodity to sell. The add-ons were just a something that could be found about anywhere by anyone, all for free. What AOL had was a name and a set of web sites, and those web sites just replicated what quickly became available hundred times over for the cost of a screen ad.
So yesterday, Time Warner set AOL free. The new president of AOL is full of the usual words telling how great it's gonna be.
Maybe. More likely, this is a five billion dollar albatross on the glide path to oblivion. Its day has passed.
But they have a new name (Aol.) and a redesigned logo and modern graphics on the web screens.
The crash into Terra Firma will be all the prettier, but a crash nonetheless.
-- text tapped from a virtual keyboard.
Location:Westgrove St,Raleigh,United States