You've got to give Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX ) America Online unit some credit -- it sure has heart. Although it may be easy to list out the ways AOL missed the boat over the last couple of years, it continues to try to cook up initiatives that will bring back its glory days. Its latest effort is its attempt to offer voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service to subscribers.
The buzz over VoIP isn't new. Over the past year or so, the market for VoIP has been opening up, as consumers seemed to become more open to adoption. And of course, telecom and cable companies saw the opportunity to woo customers who are looking for cost savings and bundled bills. The names include the big boys such as Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) , BellSouth (NYSE: BLS ) , and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) . There are also, of course, VoIP upstarts such as Vonage, who'd like to see us all bypass the big names.
Moving away from its dial-up past is, of course, of the utmost interest to AOL. Whether it's finding more ways to boost AIM's usefulness, finally teaming up with sister unit Road Runner for broadband, or greatly enhancing its content and expanding availability, it's been hard at work trying to carve itself new relevance in what has become a high-speed world.
And of course, AOL's old reputation for being a service for newbies makes perfect sense in introducing technology amateurs to new uses of technology, such as VoIP. However, despite AOL's solid name, the names mentioned above are also pretty solid with consumers.
Meanwhile, one might wonder whether AOL is trying too hard to do too much and moving too far away from its areas of expertise. Although AOL has definitely looked a bit more upbeat lately, there's always the danger of trying to be too many things to too many people and, in doing so, possibly achieving too little.
Read some detailed commentary on AOL from longtime Fool Rick Munarriz:
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Alyce Lomaxdoes not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.