Time for a change
Is the onetime breakthrough merger between Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) and America Online about to be undone? As the colossal convergence of old media and new media, the coupling turned heads at the time, especially because it was the nimble AOL buying entertainment giant Time Warner. Turns out it may have also been the dot-com bubble's "jump the shark" moment.

Well, Time Warner finally announced on Wednesday what analysts have been speculating on for a while. The company will split AOL into two divisions: access and content. Why would Time Warner bother to do this if it didn't plan on selling its fading dial-up business or its languishing Web properties? It will probably sell both, with this week's move making it easier to line up bidders in both camps.

But why wait? AOL lost more than 600,000 members in the quarter and finished up with about 8.1 million. It has been hemorrhaging accounts since peaking six years ago. Every passing quarter makes it less valuable.

The content side of the business is far more intriguing, but few beyond Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) may be able to afford it.

The next few weeks will be interesting, which is more than one can typically say about Time Warner. The stock has been muddling about in the teens for years now. In short, it's Time for a change.

Briefly in the news
And now, let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) launched a music website in China. Offers up free digital downloads in an ad-supported format, the site represents what recording companies with a presence in the world's most populous nation are down to -- settling for revenue-sharing scraps instead of piecemeal downloads.
  • On the earnings front, Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) posted its final quarter as Sirius Satellite Radio. I'm sure that the satellite-radio provider never thought it would take 18 months to get to this point after its original merger announcement, but at least it can now look ahead to digging itself out of the penny-stock muck.
  • Poor Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE: OWW). The struggling online travel website wasn't able to get its financials ready in time for its quarterly conference call, so it bumped the report -- and made the eventual release coincide with a quarterly report from rival Priceline.com (Nasdaq: PCLN), which posted another period of market-share nibbling. Keep your head up, Orbitz -- but keep your landing gear down.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Priceline.com is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look back. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.