Everybody may be preoccupied with Google's impending IPO, but in the meantime, Time Warner's
AOL plans to pitch its services through a high-profile collection of media outlets. Ads for "AOL for Broadband" will pop up on the websites of The Washington Post, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, MTV, and ABC News, according to CBS MarketWatch.
It seems hard to believe that AOL can stop its subscribers from rapidly turning to broadband providers -- though people in the know at parent Time Warner, a longtime Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick, recently said AOL's subscriber losses have subsided and predict the unit could become a growth vehicle once again. Overall, Time Warner reported an improving picture.
"AOL for Broadband" is a content offering, relying on users to "BYOA," or bring-your-own-access, meaning that they purchase their broadband services elsewhere, while paying $14.95 for AOL's community and content (and, last but certainly not least, email addresses).
The company is banking on several things, including long-term users' reluctance to give up their online identities. America Online's spam filters and parental controls help -- though that sort of thing can be found elsewhere, from competitors like EarthLink
Plus, it's loading up on the premium content for its users, such as video feeds, articles, music, and exclusive concerts (at the same time, it's diluting that a bit by offering some content for free to lure potential new subscribers). That emphasis on tunes can't be missed. After all, music's boosted Apple's
Whether AOL can become the content and entertainment company it strives to be -- especially after it merged with Time Warner -- remains to be seen. However, its strong personification as an ISP makes one wonder about its sharing a parent with broadband Internet provider Road Runner, with which it recently made nice, but not nice enough for a real partnership.
Whether AOL can recreate itself into a company where connectivity is secondary -- and charge a premium price -- is the question. Other Internet companies that focus on content, like Yahoo!
Do you think "AOL for Broadband" is brilliant or boneheaded? Will people pony up for AOL's content and email address, and for separate broadband connections? Talk it over with other Fools on the Time Warner discussion board.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.