Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #121 - February 10, 2006
AOL - The Anachronistic Behemoth
"...America Online will begin charging businesses to send
commercial e-mail to its users in the first wide-scale use of authenticated
e-mail to reduce s*p*a*m. But some marketers affected by the plan, set to
start in several weeks, call it e-mail taxation designed to create a new
stream of revenue for AOL. The certified e-mail system would require
advertisers to pay $2 to $3 per 1,000 messages. The plan is optional, though
AOL and its tech partner, Goodmail Systems, cannot guarantee that all
non-certified e-mail with Web links and images will be delivered. "This is
all about protecting consumers from s*p*a*m, phishing, viruses and fraud,"
says Richard Gingras, CEO of Goodmail. ..."
It's no wonder that AOL subscribers are
leaving in droves. AOL seems be run by a bunch of greedy buffoons who
don't have a clue about the Internet environment in which they operate
today - and who don't show much genuine interest in the needs of their
Those running AOL continue to make one
foolish decision after another. And, the cumulative affect of these poor
decisions will, hopefully, drive this anachronistic behemoth
out-of-business; and hopefully sooner rather than later. It can't come
soon enough for us.
We've watched AOL make one blundering move
after another - and yes, we've chortled with delight when every
quarterly report shows that AOL subscribers are leaving in droves. AOL's
"Big Brother" approach to Internet services is out-of-touch with common
sense. Unlike Midas, who had the golden touch, AOL has the opposite kind
of touch. We can tell you one thing, we will never allow AOL to extort
us - if AOL's subscribers are "banned" from getting our newsletter, we
suggest they get a Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo email account and subscribe
to our newsletters. Or, better yet, show AOL what you think and get a
We are very
curious how AOL will know the difference between an address that is a
non-AOL friend vs. a newsletter. We just don't see how that is going to
be possible. And, most s*p*a*m - "fake" newsletters are sent from an
address of what appears to be an individual not a company. Once again,
AOL blunders its way into another bad decision. Its a joke is what it
is. Not only does AOL force its own users to view ads in order to view
their email and now they are doing this? What about all the folks who
use AOL who have paid to receive InfoAve Premium. We're not going to buy
into AOL's extortion scam - so who's getting hurt? Right. You are. We
While AOL might
well try to extort millions from small, legitimate companies like ours, it will fail,
simply because many small companies cannot afford to pay
ransom to AOL and others will object to it on principle. And others, who can afford
to pay, may not do so simply because they're not going to allow
themselves to be extorted.
question that Goodmail sold AOL a real bill of goods. All AOL can see is
$$$. But AOL's imperious management, who have a history of making
blundering decisions; bought it. Their
extortion scheme won't stop s*p*a*m. And, in the end, will cause AOL to lose
One thing is
for sure: AOL customers will continue to receive oodles of s*p*a*m even after
this extortion scheme is in place. We are certain that AOL won't be
paying any ransom to itself when it sends its own s*p*a*m to its customers;
which they're well-noted for doing. AOL customers are forced to watch
blinking, flashing, annoying ads when using AOL's own email program.
This makes AOL's email program ADWARE. Not only does AOL charge its
customers a higher fee than almost any other ISPs charge, it serves up advertisements to its customers almost everywhere
they look. All these blinking, flashing ads are an attempt to extract
more revenue from fewer and fewer subscribers.
But, once again, it
will be AOL's subscribers who lose the most. Many of the recent decisions of AOL's
management have driven AOL subscribers to other Internet
Service Providers. AOL's greed and arrogance is made possible by
the wealth and power the company accumulated back in the days when it was the
one and only
"national" ISP and enjoyed a good reputation. Times have
Now, under huge financial pressure, AOL has become a company governed
not by the needs of its customers but by the greed of its management.
A greed that is fueled by a need to make more and more money with fewer
and fewer subscribers - money they will have to use to try to right
their rapidly sinking ship.
extortion plan is nothing more than the manifestation of its own
internal greed. AOL does everything publicly under the guise of
"protecting" its subscribers. If AOL were sincere then why doesn't AOL
get rid of the training wheels it provides its users? If they really
cared about their subscribers and keeping them "secure" - why haven't
they invested more into educating their users, and making them
self-reliant? Instead they pile on more and more training wheels.
Why do they
continually bombard their subscribers with more and more ads? That's
easy; they're losing subscribers by the millions - they have to find
ways to generate more and more money from fewer and fewer subscribers.
Now AOL's remaining subscribers are subjected to more and more ads as
AOL tries to keep the income flowing from fewer users.
The email extortion plan is nothing more than
a ruse to raise more revenue. Now they're going to try to generate money
extorting companies, big and small, who send email to AOL
subscribers. In many cases these subscribers have requested these
newsletters and email. And in the case of our InfoAve Premium have paid
a subscription fee to receive newsletters. The users who have requested
emails and newsletters and the ones that have paid a subscription fee
for newsletters and mailings are the ones who will be inconvenienced and
It seems to us that
if AOL really did care about its subscribers they'd formulate a
different agenda. They'd actually help their users by educating them,
not by being a big brother to them. In reality it's really not about their users at all - it's all
about dwindling subscribership and dwindling income. In short, it's all
about money. They're desperately trying to keep the AOL boat afloat and
weather the storm of substantially (and continually) declining
membership. AOL's actions appear desperate because they are desperate.
In recent times, every single time AOL has
tried to be innovative they've failed. AOL hasn't been an innovator for
fifteen years. Now, in order to try to save their company they once
again reach into areas that are sure to bring about even more problems
for this already greatly troubled company. Today their innovations are
not about bringing better service to their customers, they are based on
how much revenue they can bring. Doesn't AOL know that they only exist
because of their customers and without customers their advertisers
aren't going to stick with them? Does AOL really think that extorting
legitimate companies into paying fee for the privilege of sending email
to their members email is beneficial to their subscribers? In the end,
it will prove beneficial to no one. More subscribers will bail out of
AOL and few companies will be stupid enough to pay AOL even one single
penny to send mail to their subscribers. What AOL has here is a no-win
situation. Too bad they can't see it that way.
If AOL gets away with this attempt at
extortion, who knows where it will end up? Will those of us with friends
on AOL have to purchase a special "stamp" for the privilege of sending
mail to AOL subscribers? If it becomes a significant revenue stream for
AOL then you can expect to see the day of "email stamps" arrive. Other
national ISPs will see dollar signs if AOL succeeds. And the reasons we
will be given for the need for email stamps will be to protect people
from "spam" - but that would be a lie. It's all about money, of course,
not about protecting users from spam. If AOL succeeds, then the "email
stamp", the subject of endless urban legends for years, will become a
reality; and email may very well cease to be free.
We can only hope
that this new extortion scheme which apparently is now on the road to
implementation, will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. We hope
this arrogant and foolish decision is the one that puts
this anachronistic behemoth out of its misery. For good.
Added on February 22, 2006 - Please
MoveOn.org recently published this plea to
"The very existence of online civic
participation and the free Internet as we know it are under attack by
AOL recently announced what amounts to an "email tax." Under this
pay-to-send system, large emailers willing to pay an "email tax" can
bypass spam filters and get guaranteed access to people's inboxes--with
their messages having a preferential high-priority designation .
Charities, small businesses, civic organizing groups, and even families
with mailing lists will inevitably be left with inferior Internet
service unless they are willing to pay the "email tax" to AOL. We need
to stop AOL immediately so other email hosts know that following AOL's
lead would be a mistake.
Can you sign this emergency petition to America Online and forward it to
Petition statement: "AOL, don't auction off preferential access to
people's inboxes to giant emailers, while leaving people's friends,
families, and favorite causes wondering if their emails are being
delivered at all. The Internet is a force for democracy and economic
innovation only because it is open to all Internet users equally--we
must not let it become an unlevel playing field." "
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