Today's announcements included many factoids that we already knew about. For example, AIM Mail, available to any Web surfer (those without AOL subscriber affiliation), will provide 2 gigabytes of storage and aggressive spam and antivirus capabilities, free of charge. The free mail also ties in closely with AOL's vastly popular AIM instant messaging software. (The company plans a marketing blitz and sweepstakes that give away a bunch of trendy gear -- iPod Shuffles, Sony PlayStation Portables, and a 2005 Mini Cooper.)
Speaking of AIM, it is now upgradeable to version 5.9, which allows users to store information for about 400 buddies, a rather staggering number of folks when you think about it -- I count my lucky stars that I have only 69 people on my own AIM buddy list. The new version also allows one-click access to the new AIM Mail from the messaging program.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of all is that AOL is giving a sweeter deal to its own subscribers -- unlimited email storage. It's the first Web-based email provider to go sky's-the-limit, although it is, of course, suggesting that its users pay for the privilege.
The 2 gigabytes of storage that have become the new high-water mark echoing among free-mail providers Yahoo!
The promise of "unlimited storage" for paying subscribers jibes with the idea that AOL wants its subscribers to make its service their online home. The promise that one would never run out of room certainly could help ensure that these people don't move out of AOL's virtual neighborhood.
AOL has had its work cut out for it as Internet users have shifted their needs and necessities, rendering its old ways old school. However, it's particularly obvious lately that the company is trying to step up its aggression against these encroaching factors and formidable rivals. It may be all for naught if not for AOL's new broadband maneuvers, of course -- but it's obvious that AOL continues to set its sights on change, and the quicker, the better.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.
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