A report claims that AOL is planning to create Netscape 8.0. But it won’t be a browser. But an ISP. I’ve got some grief about this for several reasons:
- Confusing to the end user. Netscape was a popular browser. Then Netscape died. “Mozilla is Netscape, just better” became the cry. Now Netscape is an ISP. Very confusing. Not good.
- It’s expected to be strictly an ISP, no bloat. Not even AOL’s AIM service. Instant Messaging is considered to be the new golden child of the Internet. Yet not included into the service. Hmm? Granted they could just download AIM. Still got to wonder.
- Killing the little innovation. Lets face it, like AOL or not, they did innovate quite a bit. They managed to bring Instant Messaging to the masses for example. As well as many internet tools. Perhaps childlike. But they brought them.
My guess is that this will be somewhat successful, but I doubt it will save them from their present situation. Here is how I break it down:
These guys are novice for the most part. Know only what AOL shows them. Most are somewhat new to the new. Most average only an hour or two a week online. Tops. Mostly spent with email and instant messaging.
This is a group of people who spend quite a bit of time on the Internet. They know the internet much better, and found it’s much cheaper to just use a dialup, rather than AOL. They don’t need the bloat. They have their toys (AIM, email, etc). They strive to get the most from their money.
For the clinically insane such as myself. The only thing that would get you to switch is more speed. You are online most of the day (perhaps away from your computer, but online and computer on). You know the net rather well.
AOLers can be sprinkled around the last two, but somewhat seldom.
Now who does this new service attract?
AOL users tend to move out once they learn the ropes online. AOL’s strategy for years was just get new users online. What’s hurting them is that most who want to go online.. have done so already. So perhaps they will “keep” some of their users.
Dialup? Perhaps, but not much. There are cheaper services, and I’m sure it won’t be as fast or reliable as other services like Earthlink. There just isn’t a way to make money otherwise. And I’m sure other providers will deal with the threat appropriately.
Broadband? No, of course not. What’s to gain? The only market here would be DSL users. And what’s the advantage for them? They already have access. Most at this stage know better than to use their ISP’s email address anyway. They have a free @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com or @theirdomain.com.
So where’s the market?
I’m guessing it’s only to help keep some AOL users. But I doubt it will keep to many. AOL can’t tap into broadband like it needs to stay afloat. Over time dialup users will migrate to broadband. With broadband, there is little place for AOL as an ISP.
If AOL were to play smart. Here would be the strategy:
Remake AOL into a content service. Time Warner is a media giant. CNN, HBO, Warner Music, Turner Networks, just to name a few of the brands in this beast. Many very very popular brands. If AOL were wise, they would get out of the ISP business, and start looking at being a content provider. Pay a fee for access to premiere content. Online Video, Music, News, CONTENT.
It’s not like the content needs to be developed. It’s already there. How about the Platform? Mozilla is already there.
Real bright execs there. That’s why the company is known as