You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

With America Online’s Growth Comes Glitches

While America Online has had good news to report lately – subscriptions to the service passed the 2 million mark, an increasing number of entertainment and information companies offer forums on AOL and the service recently announced a joint venture with Bertelsmann for a European launch – that growth hasn’t been trouble-free.

According to a March letter to AOL subscribers, company CEO Steve Case said the service has experienced problems with delayed electronic mail, network access problems and delays in the Internet interface upgrade. Case said the E-mail delays were a result of a huge increase in usage, “from 70,000 messages per day a year ago, to more than 1.5 million E-mails per day now.” The delays were particularly severe in the first two weeks of February, he added. On Feb. 14, AOL installed new system software, which Case said appears to have solved the problem.

In order to eliminate network access difficulties, a problem in some parts of the country, AOL is pushing to bring higher speeds, and now offers access at 14.4 kilobits-per-second (Kbps) in nearly every city that offers 9.6 Kbps access.

AOL is now testing 28.8 Kbps access through its own network, AOLnet. Case said development of a browser for the World Wide Web has been completed, and is now in internal alpha testing, with broader beta testing later this month. He said Web access is likely in May, a delay from the originally announced start-up date of March.

The letter went on to say: “A number of you might be familiar with Web browsers that run as applications separate from your regular communications software or online service. We thought a better approach would be to fully integrate Web access into AOL, so you can seamlessly access America Online content and ‘surf’ the Web at the same time. We wanted to be able to organize AOL based on topics of interest (so, for example, all sports content would be in one place, irrespective of whether the data is stored on AOL’s computers or Web servers), rather than organizing the service based on the underlying technology and thus fragmenting the offering.”

All that has taken more time than AOL planned, said Case.

The company also is addressing the upcoming debut of Microsoft’s competing online service. AOL president Ted Leonsis, in what was billed as a “cyber-keynote speech” to journalist, analysts and Harvard Business School students, outlined the company’s perspective on the future of emerging media. In the speech, an interactive TV broadcast titled “Seven Things They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School About New Media,” Leonsis said most progress in the area of new media will not come from a “convergence” of large corporate interests – as many people now believe – but from “smaller, entrepreneurial companies.”

In pointed remarks about Microsoft, Leonsis said he is personally offended by the “presumption” that Microsoft Network will win out over other online contenders.

“I believe Microsoft is creating a ‘private Internet,'” he maintained. He characterized Microsoft’s planned service as “proprietary and exclusive.”

The term itself, “Microsoft Network,” signifies that it belongs to the software giant, Leonsis said. On the other hand, he noted, “AOL is yours. I just can’t see teenagers walking around with T-shirts that say, ‘The Microsoft Network.'”

More Digital

  • Nancy Pelosi

    Facebook on Defensive Over Fake Pelosi Video

    Facebook faced growing criticism this week over its decision not to remove a video that was doctored to suggest that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was intoxicated during a recent public event. The video, which has been viewed more than 2.5 million times, had been slowed down notably, giving the impression that Pelosi was slurring her [...]

  • Little-Black-Mirror-Maia-Mitchell

    Netflix Launching 'Little Black Mirror' Video Series Starring Maia Mitchell, Lele Pons, Rudy Mancuso, Juanpa Zurita and More

    To promote next month’s premiere of “Black Mirror” season 5, Netflix is launching a short video series — “Little Black Mirror,” with a cast that includes an ensemble of Latinx social-media stars. The three “mini-stories,” aimed at Spanish-speaking audiences, are inspired by the tech-dystopian universe of Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones’ anthology series. “Little Black [...]

  • Twitter

    Twitter Permanently Bans Anti-Trump Krassenstein Brothers, Who Deny They Broke Platform's Rules

    Twitter permanently suspended the accounts of Ed and Brian Krassenstein — progressive political activists famous for trolling Donald Trump and his supporters — with the company alleging the brothers used bogus accounts to amplify their reach on the platform. “The Twitter Rules apply to everyone,” a Twitter rep said in a statement. “Operating multiple fake [...]

  • Snapchat

    Snap in Talks to License Music to Let Snapchat Users Embed Songs in Posts

    Snap wants to up Snapchat’s music game. The company has been in negotiations with music companies including the big three — Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group — to license song catalogs for the Snapchat app, according to two industry sources familiar with the talks, confirming a Wall Street Journal report. [...]

  • T-mobile - Netflix - John Legere

    T-Mobile Passes Netflix Price Hike Through to Subscribers

    T-Mobile is getting ready to raise prices for subscribers who have taken advantage of its “Netflix On Us” promotion: The mobile carrier will begin charging existing customers who have participated in the promotion an additional $2 per month to account for Netflix’s recent price increase. Consumers will see their bill go up starting on 6/2. [...]

  • Oona King

    Snap Hires Google Exec Oona King as First VP of Diversity and Inclusion

    Snap continues to fill out the ranks of its revamped leadership team: The Snapchat parent tapped Oona King, most recently Google’s director of diversity strategy and a former member of British Parliament with the Labour Party, as its first VP of diversity and inclusion. King, who starts at Snap on June 11, is also the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content