Tag Archives: aol

👋👋Whats next for messaging as another stalwart departs.

This week we say goodbye to a messenger app that dominated North America and look at a new battle for messenger supremacy.

Its finally gone.

AOL Instant Messenger is shutting down in December. For most of you this will be a “so what” moment but it will be on almost all tech news sites as it was by far the biggest instant messaging service in North America. Here in the UK, MSN messenger was king for many years but that shut down in 2014.

Of course today it is all about WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat. Originally, these companies did little to differentiate from old messengers other than being a better experience on the mobile. That it seems was enough.

Today though, the capabilities of these apps are increasing. Filters, augmented reality, chatbot and of course more artificial intelligence.

But language continuously evolves around us and as technology opens new ways to communicate, so does the way we communicate. Today the world is emoji crazy. Tomorrow though smart assistants, augmented/virtual reality and holograms are all going to have a large impact on how we communicate.

Facebook announced Spaces last year, their vision of social networking in the future which I suspect will be looked back upon much the same way as we now look back on Microsoft Bob, Microsoft’s attempt to transform the computer interface. We still don’t have mainstream 3D computer interfaces but they are coming and with it will come the ability to communicate within these digital realms.

Microsoft Bob

Interoperability is not important.

Meanwhile, Amazon has brought its Alexa calling capabilities to the UK. It will allow you to communicate with other Alexa users (and hopefully call US phone numbers as well).

Now there are a lot of Alexa users out there but it is still only a tiny minority of my friends. It isn’t like there is anything compelling for me to use it.

Amazon is a late entrant to the messaging space though early within the smart assistant space. Still, this is not an open and new market and with heavy competition from Google and Apple it is going to be an uphill battle to make Alexa calling a real success.

Now if it allowed me to call other platforms, message WhatsApp, Snap or Facebook Messenger – that would be useful.

There are of course benefits strategically to Amazon building an Alexa-only calling capability – it serves to lock people into the platform and reduce churn. That only happens though with major adoption, which of course they don’t have.

Back in the 2005, Google launched Google Talk its first of many unsuccessful forays into messaging. Very quickly though they made it possible to chat to Yahoo, AIM and MSN contacts and the big players worked together to create a way for them to interconnect. It never really worked though and its struggles do not bode well for Amazon. This was not due to the open nature of the platform but rather a poor user experience and completely missed the mobile opportunity.

Unfortunately that industry-wide effort to create interoperability was abandoned and we are left with messenger silos again today. If I only use Snap and you want to message me you either have to download Snap or fallback on SMS.

History seems to suggest that this interoperability will only happen when a market becomes mature and stable. Perhaps the instant messaging market had matured enough for that to start happening only for mobile to disrupt it.

Perhaps though we could agree on some basic standards which all platforms can build to and allow for basic messaging between platforms.

Without this, unfortunately we are not likely to see any interoperability between devices for a long time without external intervention – that intervention in turn would slow down innovation so I guess we are destined to continue in the same vein for now.

Perhaps we will see WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger release “apps” (aka skills) into the Alexa and Google Home ecosystems and make the whole Alexa calling thing disappear.

AOL just will not be a serious competitor to Google, Yahoo or Microsoft

Reading Dylan Fuller’s post on AOL CEO, Andy Fulco, talking tough:

“I hope they beat each other’s brains out over search and leave the display market to us,” he said to the Interactive Advertising Bureau annual conference. “I think it’s a mistake. But I think Napoleon said never interrupt your enemy when they’re in the middle of making a mistake.”

Dylan is right there are some cool products being talked about. But this is how to lose users.. go along to the Xdrive website and click the link for more info about their new ultra cool Xdrive Desktop Lite app – a 404 error.

So I download it instead.

I already have an account.. I can log in via the website just fine – but I just get a login error via the Xdrive Lite app. I know it is in beta still but surely they can do better than this?

AOL are lucky Google’s Gdrive is not out yet and Microsoft’s version (Skydrive) is currently unusable – you have to select individual files to upload to their online storage – thats great when I have a few thousand files.

[update] ah – they fixed the link now and updated the front page design entirely – much better, there is also no advert either on the front page interestingly. For me though, the product still just doesn’t seem to work as advertised. I selected a directory and dragged it to the app. It should sync right? Well the list of transfers shows all the files but after it syncs some files, it just seems to get stuck – files are no longer being uploaded. I don’t know why.. some form of error message of status bar would be useful! Incidentally this was the same issue 4 months ago when I last tried Xdrive 🙁

Who clicks on ads? It’s all about relevancy.

apophenia wrote an article about “who clicks on ads? and what might this mean” which talks about that common phrase from people – “I never click on ads”. It then concludes that the majority of people clicking on ads online are from the lower socio-economic groups online, taking this conclusion from a study produced by AOL. Go here to read the full article.

AOL’s customer base has traditionally had a bias towards this demographic and this would certainly lead to them having a skew towards this demographic clicking on ads. Even more so, marketers advertising inside AOL seem to understand this and display banners suited to this demographic. Yet those same marketers do not seem to do this in the wider Internet. If this demographic is clicking in the majority on online ads, then surely the majority of agencies are wasting their client’s money online?

I don’t agree with this conclusion, not just because doing so would mean Google’s valuation would very quickly collapse 😉

People do click on ads online, but they do so only when it is of interest to them (or to put it another way, when they benefit from clicking). Whether it is because they are in the market for a car and see a car ad they liked, or because they have seen a film trailer they want to find out more about. Marketers everywhere are trying to show an ad to the right person in the right place and at the right time. Achieve this and click-thru and economic returns would be sky high. This is why Google is doing so well, its technology is able to place adverts in front of you at a time when you are interested in a specific topic.