Has Time Warner's
Do you pay a whole bunch of bills online, keying onto different websites with different user names and passwords? Through the proposed AOL services, users will be able to aggregate all such bills (at least, from the companies that allow them to pay online) through their AOL account. They'll receive email alerts when bills come due, for example, and the service will retain sites and the passwords for easy payment surfing.
Of course, I don't really think that the service will literally proclaim in a loud voice that "You've got bills!" -- I was just joking on that aspect (talk about anxiety!). I do think, though, that the whole idea of the bill-paying service is another value-added service for subscribers.
And that's the whole point here: stopping the flow of AOL defectors. After all, people have been shedding Internet training wheels in favor of cheaper and/or higher speed solutions. In January, Fool Rex Moore reported that AOL finally moved to address the bargain-bin ISPs, after having lost more than 2 million subscribers last year alone.
Companies like EarthLink
AOL's definitely seen better times -- like before it merged with Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick, Time Warner. Back then, most Internet users were newbies, welcoming an easy and entertaining way to navigate the mysterious World Wide Web. Let's call it the Google-ization of our society just for kicks -- now, many of us have racked up a few geek points at least, having grown up and moved out of AOL's nest into high-speed Internet and self-navigated Web browsing.
As the space continues to evolve, the next few years should be interesting as stock watchers observe ISPs compete not only on price and speed, but also through the myriad ways they can ease or enrich users' lives. AOL's bill-paying service may not be enough to woo more people to the service, but perhaps it will be among the reasons to stay.
Is this a brilliant idea? Do you think this might help bring more subscribers or keep existing ones? Or is AOL just floundering as it looks for ways to keep its subscribers from defecting? Talk to other Fools about the issues at hand on the Time Warner discussion board.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any companies mentioned. Of the ISPs listed in this article, she has used AOL, EarthLink, and Verizon over the years. The one she remembers fondly, though, is a small local ISP, long since devoured by one of the big players.