The comeback of America Online from the ashes
If you are old like me, you probably remember the days of America Online in the ’90s. AOL was one of the first companies to introduce Internet to millions of people. I was one of such people. Some referred to AOL as Internet with wheels because it was a starting point for many individuals that were exploring the world wide web for the first time. Countless hours were spent on chatting with existing friends and making new ones. The built in browser, the ability to send instant messages to people, and being able to email people all from within one software program was a beautiful thing to have at your fingertips.
So, what went wrong? Why did America Online fail as a company when they had a significant advantage right from the start? How are they turning it around by taking the company in a different directions after a decade?
America Online had it all
Consider that they had the whole new Internet user market cornered. When someone spoke of Internet, they spoke of AOL. Heck, even I thought America Online was the Internet until someone explained to me that it is just a pathway. At one point, they were sending out so much spam mail that you would be surprised to not find an AOL CD or a floppy in your mailbox at home. Yes, their whole software did fit on a simple floppy disk at one point.
Although AOL had a significant advantage over their competitors, they could not hold onto their customers. Free services such as Netzero started to come out and started taking away business from America Online. Failure to change with times, AOL soon saw itself in a hole it could not come out from, and has been working slowly to dig their way back to the limelight.
Rise to stardom, once again
With newer technologies available, America Online took a different approach. They started becoming a content publishing company to deliver advertisements to users looking for specific information. For the past few years, they have either bought or started new sites focusing on providing information on various topics. AOL owns very popular websites such as Engadget. Additionally, they provide a free instant messenger. They have just added TechCrunch, a very popular technology blog, to their list of web properties. The details of this transaction are not disclosed, but it is rumored that America Online paid between $25 to $40 million to close the deal.
From the looks of things, AOL is spreading its wings once again by acquiring web content providers to ensure delivery of advertisements across various platforms. America Online has had its ups and downs, but they have been exploring new methods for growth. The direction they are taking the company as of late seems to be good. In the world of technology, business plans have to be changed quickly. They already witnessed how bad it can be for a company to refuse to provide what the customers want. Now, they are trying to stay with the times and probably will continue a steady growth for the foreseeable future.