AOL may be having a tough time keeping its paying subscribers, but it's apparently finding no trouble in attracting potential suitors.
Reuters reports that Time Warner's
Why America Online? Well, even though paying subscriber rolls for its access service peaked six years ago, AOL's growing suite of free content keeps drawing visitors. Even in the hip Apple
Unfortunately for AOL, most of that traffic is the penny-pinching kind. That same problem finds every Web company not named Google
What's in it for Microsoft? MSN.com is growing but still unprofitable. Scooping up AOL would help Microsoft's fledgling online advertising business by providing it with a ton of additional pages on which to sell ads. As a more strategic benefit, Google has a small stake in AOL, and it's currently serving AOL's paid search needs. If Microsoft can't take down Google, it may as well eye sites like AOL and News Corp.'s
What's in it for Yahoo!? Absorbing AOL would be more of the same for the Yahooligans, but it may buy Yahoo! some time. No one knows how next month's shareholder meeting will turn out, but snapping up America Online at a fair price would give Yahoo! a fresh growth catalyst to highlight.
Now that Time Warner is open to breaking up its conglomerate -- just check out last year's Time Warner Cable
AOL may not be much of a looker, but that's all relative these days. For better or worse, AOL is the new belle of the buyout ball.
More on the Microsoft-Yahoo! mess: