history and services offered

What is AOL?

AOL stands for America Online (now, AOL.inc) one of the pioneering companies to offer Internet services in the 1990s. It was the most recognized brand on the web in the United States until well into the 2000s.

AOL was one of the biggest Internet service giants in the US, although it failed to cope with new browsing speeds.

In this article we will review the history of this Internet giant, from its beginnings to the present day, but first we will analyze the services it currently offers

What services does AOL offer

AOL currently offers the following services:

-AOL Mail: An e-mail service.

-AOL Desktop Gold: An Internet suite that integrates a proprietary web browser (based on Internet Explorer), the AOL Mail e-mail service, and various security features.

-AOL App: An Android app that offers AOL’s email service, an instant messaging service, as well as a news feed, videos, and a weather widget.

How AOL got its start

AOL’s story begins before the 1990s. In 1982, it began its journey as a small company called “Control Video Corporation”, which offered a data network known as Gameline exclusive to the Atari 2600 console.

For several years, the company changed its name and moved into providing connection services for different video game platforms, such as the Commodore, and computer systems, such as the Apple II and Macintosh.

Finally, in 1989 it was renamed America Online (AOL) and continued with its strategy of offering. video game console connection services.specifically by offering a series of online games.

In 1991, they released a Windows and DOS version of their service, and by 1993 they had nearly 300,000 users, becoming the fourth largest Internet service provider, below CompuServe, Prodigy and Genie.

Top global Internet provider.

At this time, AOL developed a marketing strategy that allowed them to position themselves as the world’s first Internet service provider: they began to giving away free cassettes and records to everyone who had a computer at home.

Thanks to this strategy, they overcame the four million subscribers in 1996, which allowed them to buy out one of their main competitors: CompuServe. With this purchase, AOL’s subscribers surpassed 9 million.

This rapid growth, however, created an infrastructure problem, as AOL did not have enough serversso they had to install 30,000 new computers every month.

AOL modem loading screen
Old AOL dial-up Internet service loading screen.

In the early 2000s, being one of the largest companies in the U.S., it announced the acquisition of Time Warner (this being the largest company merger in U.S. history), with the purpose of allowing AOL users to access Warner’s content from AOL.

After the acquisition of Time Warner, AOL faced several problems that it did not know how to solve. On the one hand, the two companies were very different, which resulted in a clash of corporate cultures which was made worse by the fact that America Online was unable to adapt to the new broadband speeds, leading to a loss of market share and the dismissal of the executives, who were replaced by those of Time Warner (who, in turn, had very little experience in the Internet services sector).

Decline of AOL and current situation.

On the other hand, AOL also failed to stand up to its technological rivals. AOL’s Internet business model was that of a “walled garden“The company’s strategy was to concentrate all activity within its own network and through its products and services. However, its main competitors, such as Google, used an open Internet strategy that eventually prevailed.

In 2009, AOL had less than 5 million users and in 2010, in an attempt to save the company they bought several content websites. The company closed in Spain in 2010. In 2013 they already had only 3 million users.

In 2015, mobile operator Verizone acquired AOL for $4.4 billion. Three years later, Verizone bought Yahoo! and tried to merge the two companies, without success. Currently, AOL operates as a web portal and online service provider that is part of Yahoo!

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