What does AOL stand for in social media today? It’s a question that plagues many online users. In the past few years, AOL has undergone many changes, including the loss of its newly appointed president William Razzouk last June, a Federal Trade Commission investigation, and a network brownout in August. The company has also been subjected to a barrage of boisterous banter from investors. As a result, it’s not surprising that AOL is looking to reinvent itself to attract new business.
Time Warner’s acquisition of AOL in 2002 was an unfortunate misstep. The company’s dial-up customer base began dwindling as users moved to broadband. Time Warner was forced to sell Yahoo and drop the name “AOL.” The resulting merger brought Yahoo to the attention of activist investors, and the new board dropped the word “AOL” from the company’s name. Yahoo, meanwhile, has been in a renaissance of sorts over the past few years, thanks to former Yahoo executive Marissa Mayer. Mayer, who was previously employed at Google, applied Google rigor to its properties and acquired startups.
AOL’s new business-to-business unit, AOL Enterprise, is a significant move. The AOL executive team has kept quiet about the new venture, so that the company could test the waters. It’s currently in stealth mode, but Walsh expects the division to triple its staff within three months. This new division will be a major revenue generator for the company, potentially accounting for 10 percent of total revenues.
The main differences between AOL and Yahoo Mail are the email service itself, and the interface used to access it. AOL Mail users are usually overweight, politically middle-of-the-road, and have children. They usually have a desktop computer, own at least one DVR, and prefer sweet snacks. They tend to be married with at least a couple of children and are in a relationship of at least 10 years. In addition, they have not travelled outside their own country, and are primarily online. They also prefer to read magazines, listen to the radio, and watch TV through a variety of sources.