E-Commerce Times Talkback
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The war between Microsoft and AOL for Internet users is extending to a new battleground today: New York's Central Park. That is where Microsoft is scheduled to hold a star-studded launch event for MSN 8, the latest version of its Internet browser and online services. Microsoft has long run a distant second to AOL in terms of subscriber base. But that gap may narrow if the MSN 8 launch goes as planned. "They're trying to hit AOL when they're low. The timing is pretty good, and their marketing is pretty good," IDC analyst Jonathan Gaw told NewsFactor.
Reasons for avoiding AOL:
1. AOL is Spam Central. Despite their denial, AOL sells member information. During my (now cancelled) 5-year membership, my Inbox was swamped with Spam on a daily basis. Ironically, AOL provided a method in which Spam could be reported to them. In doing so, a "thank you" would arrive stating they would look into the matter. However, the Spam would continue to arrive in mass quantity. Even -if- they only market within their own organization, everyone knows their reach is far and wide these days, resulting in a ton of unwanted email-based and other solicitations.
2. As a segue to #1, members should be fully aware of their Marketing Preferences. After signing in to AOL and typing keyword "marketing preferences" (or "marketing prefs"), members will be able to view and edit the various marketing angles that AOL has "assumed" member participation. From the member's home address and phone number to their e-mail address, AOL has taken it upon themselves to freely market these avenues. For -each- profile created within a member's main account (including their main account), these marketing preferences are set to "yes" without prompting for opt-in. It's probably buried somewhere in all their fine print, but they're gambling members won't read it, as most do not. To add insult to injury, even if a member was to set all the preferences to "no", after 12 months AOL will automatically set them back to "yes" hoping the member will not realize this fact until it's too late. A case study has revealed that AOL's #1 form of income is via their marketing channels. Membership Fees take a back seat in comparison to the saleability of member information.
3. Continuing on this subject matter, AOL's Support Center has admitted that a Member's Screen Name is made available to websites being visited. In other words, the web server on which the visited webpage resides is able to record an AOL member's screen name. This is an outright breach of anonymity and further legitimizes the fact that AOL quickly becomes Spam Central.
4. AOL = AMERICA on-line or Singapore on-line? Most likely by accident, I have received replies from AOL Support that were time-stamped and denoted as originating from Singapore. With AOL membership reaching into the millions, there's little doubt that this company would reach into other countries to hire cheap support personnel. With so many Americans out of work these days, AOL is as Anti-American as you can get. Support them and you support everything they stand for.
5. As most educated people know, all the features of AOL are available via other channels. For example:
--Connecting to the internet: There are many affordable and reliable ISPs (internet service providers) for people to choose from. I use Verizon high-speed DSL at a cost of 19.95 USD per month.
--There are other IM (instant messaging) applications available at no cost. Even if someone was addicted to AIM (AOL's IM), they can still download and utilize this application for free -without- being an official member of AOL.
6. AOL will reluctantly inform people (only when pressed) that there are other -cheaper- methods available for accessing their services. For around 5.00 USD per month, a member can access their e-mail and other AOL features via any internet browser such as IE (internet explorer). The only catch is that the person would need to utilize some other ISP.
7. Last, but by no means least, cut down on advertisements. It seems that, on every single window in AOL, there is an advertisement. It's quite annoying in my opinion. At least provide a way to disable the adverts.