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October 8th, 2001

As If You Needed Another Reason…

America Online has announced that it will soon track users’ surfing habits. It’s not being done in order to improve the service (you can’t improve perfection, duh!) or make response time faster, or provide more dialup numbers, no. It’s being done to better target advertisements.

Realistically, what are the reasons people use AOL? The only one I can think of offhand is ease-of-use. While setting up a computer to access the Internet is not hard, AOL is happy to tell people that it is – and people are happy to listen. And subscribe.

But beyond that, I can’t imagine any advantage to using AOL. The net access is crippled. The advertisements are plentiful. The user interface is horrendously awful. The software is poorly written. Can one talk with friends on AOL, elsewhere? Sure – just grab AIM. Plus, it’s more expensive than most monthly dialup access.

I’m curious, then, why anyone would want to use AOL. -pm

Posted in Miscellaneous

DATE: Monday October 8, 2001 -- 9:26:43AM
Well, I think you said it yourself right there. It's ease of use. Or, more accurately, perceived ease of use. Even in this day and age, a lot of people just don't get computers. Having something that'll do everything for them is great. Sure it costs more. Sure there are the ads. But all you gotta do is stick the disc in.

Marketing is amazing.

FROM: Johnny Storm
DATE: Monday October 8, 2001 -- 1:36:27PM
Maybe... in order to keep the same e-mail address I've been using since 1994? By the way, I just pay the $9.95 per month "bring your own access" deal. No dial-up modem; I use my office's net or DSL at home.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Monday October 8, 2001 -- 2:39:55PM
Even better: pay $10 a year for your own domain and a little more for e-mail forwarding and you can change ISPs to your heart's content.

FROM: Terry M.
DATE: Monday October 8, 2001 -- 6:29:47PM
Why do people use AOL over other ISP's? Why do people drink Coke or Pepsi instead of the store brand, when the products are all identical? Why do people wear (and pay a massive premium for) Nike's and Reebok's instead of generic brands, which all have the same quality? Why do people buy Kraft Macaroni & Cheese instead of the far more inexpensive, but otherwise identical, store brand? Why do people pay a huge premium for Dell computers over white box systems?

It's all due to brand. AOL has an extremely valuable brand, and people are willing to pay a premium for that. Nothing more, nothing less.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Tuesday October 9, 2001 -- 10:44:40AM
Yes, Terry, that's true... but is AOL really identical to "pure" internet access? I don't think so.

This isn't a matter of apples and apples; it's a matter of apples and apples that have a few bites taken out of them.

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