I'll be honest, I have at one point in my life used America Online (AOL)
but that was back in the day (circa 1995) when there weren't too many other options. I never actually paid for the service; I just kept on using the free hours they sent me. Now whenever I see AOL in the news I wonder how the hell they are even making money these days, and why do people still use this service.
Old School Internet
As I mentioned, long ago I did use AOL for internet service but as soon as the free hours ran out and I had to purchase internet access, I didn't select AOL as my Internet Service Provider (ISP). The main reason was because it was obvious to me that AOL charged a premium for services that were already available freely on the "world wide web".
In all fairness, when you compare what AOL was offering back then to the plain old WWW, AOL was actually pretty good for novice users. Sign-in to the internet was easy, email was easy, and you had easy access to many different areas of information (Portal). I can see how they were able to build a sizable customer base since they were offering something that wasn't as easy to get with a plain Jane ISP.
Fast forward to today: Connecting to the internet isn't difficult especially with broadband, there are numerous email providers that are easy to use such as Hotmail
, and portals and search engines such as Yahoo
provide easy access to information.
Furthermore, many ISPs offer premium services such as spam filtering, virus scanning, web site space, multiple email addresses, and the ability to check your email over the web at little to no cost.
AOL Keeps Digging
To top it all off, AOL has been in the news lately for a couple of reasons. They have announced that they will charge the same price to consumers for dial-up as they do for broadband. Doing this alienates any customer who cannot access their broadband services and who have been loyal customers to AOL.
Secondly, they announced a plan to charge large emailers to ensure their email bypasses their spam filters. I don't so much care about this but it does look bad on their part and I hope it doesn't start a trend, cause once money is involved these things usually end up ruining the very thing they set out to protect.
I'll separate this into two groups since I realize that there are probably people out there who have been with AOL since a time when it may have been actually worth it. It's most likely that they decided to stick with AOL because the price isn't that much different and they don't want to lose their email address, and in general it's not worth the trouble.
The second group and in my opinion the stupid group are the ones who have recently signed up for the AOL internet service. I admit that I may be missing something here (maybe the price isn't that much higher, or they do offer unique services) but my gut tells me that people who have decided to choose AOL as their ISP don't have a clue. They may be paying extra for services you can easily get without AOL.