AOL Trying to Rise from the Ashes with Facelift and Access to Multiple Email Accounts
AOL is working to resurrect its brand.
By Howie Fenton
Published: November 15, 2010
AOL is working to resurrect its brand. Despite having helped introduce e-mail to the masses in the 1990s, AOL has been steadily losing users and market share in the e-mail space. AOL now has a meager 30.8 million e-mail users, compared with Microsoft (361 million global users), Yahoo (273 million), and Google (193 million). AOL’s new site is offering faster video and the promise of aggregating multiple e-mail accounts onto one site. AOL is trying to reverse a slide that began nearly 10 years ago shortly after being acquired by Time Warner. AOL recently become an independent company again, and has tried to make a comeback, but this will be an uphill battle.
Since Google first introduced Gmail back in 2004, it's groundbreaking and frequently updated feature set has been stealing market share from other providers. Google’s web-based e-mail service offers: increased storage space, a web-based mobile app, Google Chat and many cool features. All other e-mail players have been scrambling to catch up:, Microsoft introduced the Windows Live Hotmail "Wave 4" update last May, and Yahoo has been talking about new Yahoo Mail features and now, it's AOL's turn.
Not unlike Google’s News feature content, the new AOL homepage will change throughout the day. This "day-part programming," as AOL calls it, will provide break-downs of the most important news for morning, midday, and evening. AOL’s new "The Light Box" feature is a faster in-page video player featuring content from AOL and its partners. Similar to the organization of the popular newspapers, the content will be delivered in the chunks such as latest headlines, local news, daily buzz and video features.
Like the legendary bird, AOL wants to rise from the ashes and become the e-mail leader again with their 'Project Phoenix,' a web-based client built from scratch. Project Phoenix features a number of other upgrades that make it more of a central hub for communicating online. Users of AOL’s new e-mail, available by invitation only here, can pull in messages from Yahoo Mail, Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Hotmail, among others, through a simple sign-in process. E-mails from those services then automatically appear in a unified Project Phoenix inbox, although users can also choose to view messages from just one address at a time.
The greatest problem, however, is that Project Phoenix cannot access e-mail from Microsoft Exchange Server – which is the main corporate e-mail system – nor is it compatible with messages sent via Facebook’s existing message service or Twitter. They all may be integrated later, according to AOL.
As someone who has a company e-mail account and a personal e-mail account the idea of having one site to log into that can show both has merit. If we avoid the controversy of AOL as an e-mail provider, or the lack of integration with Microsoft Exchange Server what do you think about the idea of aggregating multiple e-mail accounts onto one site?
Personally I would love to have one place to log into that could gather all e-mail, but what do you think? Would you use a site that could aggregate multiple e-mail accounts onto one site?