At the time of the merger, I was still using AOL. I had three reasons:
- I spent a lot of time in dial-up country in those days;
- I always felt like AOL, though not the cheapest, gave me good value for my money; and
- I supported their crusade against spam and spammers (they were in the forefront of pursuing spammers in court).
Frankly, I do not think the merger helped anyone, least of all AOL. Indeed, I think it hamstrung AOL’s ability to respond to the changing internet universe. At this point, I think AOL seems to have become just another news and celebutard aggregator–about all they have that seems to have any life left is AIM, and I use Pidgin, which does the same thing without the ads or weatherbug, anyway.
Time Warner has prepared AOL for a possible spinoff in the past two months, hiring a new chief executive for the division and amending debt agreements that restricted the transfer of its assets. Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Bewkes said in February that spinning off all or part of the Web unit was one option.
AOL’s fate will be the most significant topic on Time Warner’s April 29 earnings conference call and the unit may be a separate company as soon as six months from now, said Michael Morris, an analyst at UBS AG, and Alan Gould of Natixis Bleichroeder Inc. Sealing AOL’s future would enable Bewkes, 56, to concentrate on divisions such as the Warner Bros. studio.