With the growth of “Web 2.0″ social networking and applications like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, WordPress, Wikipedia, Flickr, torrents, tags, RSS, let me hit the rewind button and go waaaaay back to..1993 when America Online was the KING.
Before America Online, the only way I could interact with people in front of their computers was via bulletin board systems or if I could get through to newsgroups via Seflin library service. All of these methods were still using 1980′s concepts and technology.
But then AOL came into computer users lives and teens and kids demanded it from their parents even though the pricing was outrageous when you considered the metered time. I mean if you had cybersex with a girl who was really a guy for an hour, you lost most of your minutes. And it seemed AOL did everything it could to slow things down and keep you on .
AOL had exclusive features from major corporations, and if you actually check some advertisements in magazines or comic books from that time period, you can see how companies didn’t even have websites back then- they had an AOL Keyword portal. AOL used to be THE place to chat, but tickets online, read interviews, play AD&D, and download music but AOL kept their community closed and was anti-World Wide Web and anti-Internet. This sheltered existence worked at the beginning, but led to its ruination.
The reason why American Online jumped the shark is because people had no reason to use it anymore.
The major factors leading to the decline of AOL:
1) They didn’t have exclusive rights to the pipes of the product: any company can run telecommunication lines underground.
2) Broadband. AOL was stuck in dial-up for too long, and as soon as cable or phone companies offered DSL lines or cable modems was there any reason to use AOL? I mean- the internet is always on with DSL.
3) Companies realized how easy it was to set up and design their own websites and were no longer exclusive to AOL.
4) Open areas within AOL became “partnership areas” (paid, of course).
5) Did not have the vision to move with the times and adapt.
6) Poor customer service.
7) People started using web applications like Yahoo Messenger and over time the openness of the web took over mainstream surfing from AOL. AOL didn’t even allow non-users to see profile pages.
8) As an AOL member, your “website” had to have the aol domain name all over it.
Since AOL was the king of the hill in the mainstream and an “essential component” of the Internet, I have to wonder which of the current popular sites will be the next AOL. Will it be MySpace? Twitter? Facebook? Google? Yahoo? eBay?
Take a look at other fallen “dot com” sites, search engines, or software programs that lost their market share and see how easy it is to lose relevance REAL QUICK: