While many of us think of dial-up Internet service as a long-buried relic of years past, for many Americans it’s still a sad, slow reality. The Pew Research Center reports that around 3% of American Internet users are still using dial-up services as their means for going online, a percentage that hasn’t change since 2011. Given that the decline in dial-up subscribers has slowed dramatically over the past two years, it seems that the remaining 3% who still use dial-up have no options to subscribe to DSL or cable and are more or less stuck with the service if they want to go online. This may explain why AOL has actually been jacking up prices for dial-up users recently since its customers seemingly have nowhere else to go.
If there’s one thing that’s worse than being trapped in AOL dial-up hell, it’s paying even more money to stay there. Dan Frommer at SplatF notes that AOL’s average monthly revenue per dial-up subscriber is now $20.03, which is a 12% year-over-year increase from 2012. One reason why the company might be increasing its prices for users even as its dial-up subscriber numbers dwindle to 2.6 million because the users it has left simply have no alternative other than sticking with its slow, tedious service. AOL’s dial-up subscription business is still the company’s top money-maker so it’s not surprising that it is willing to squeeze ever-more cash out of the comparatively few customers it has left.
Amazing but true: AOL’s dial up business still makes over $150 million in quarterly operating income
We were surprised last summer when we learned that there were still 3 million lost souls who were trapped in AOL dial-up hell, since we figured that dial-up Internet service had gone the way of POGs and Beanie Babies as ’90s trends that had been mercifully relegated to the dustbin of history. But as Business Insider’s Henry Blodget points out, AOL’s (AOL) dial-up subscription service is still the company’s major money maker and produced an operating income before depreciation and amortization of $158.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Blodget notes that even though AOL’s dial-up business is still shrinking, it’s still producing “about $500 million a year… that AOL can use and is using to invest in other cool businesses (content and an ad network).” So take comfort, AOL dial-up subscribers: Your willingness to wait 45 minutes to watch a three-minute YouTube video is powering AOL’s other businesses to new and exciting heights.
Thankfully, most Internet users haven’t been forced to hear the words “Wel-come! You’ve got mail!” when they log onto the Web for at least a decade now. But Dan Fromer at SplatF has combed through AOL’s (AOL) second-quarter earnings report and found that AOL still provides dial-up service to roughly 3 million subscribers. Granted, that number is a big drop from AOL’s halcyon days when it counted more than 25 million subscribers and was sending around soon-to-be-coasterized AOL installation CDs with reckless abandon. But even so, who exactly is still stuck on AOL dial up these days, and can we organize a satellite service rescue charity to help these poor suckers out? More →
Microsoft and Facebook on Monday announced a $550 million patent agreement in which the social networking giant will purchase a portion of the patent portfolio Microsoft recently acquired recently from Aol. Facebook will take ownership of approximately 650 former Aol patents, and it will license the remaining patents owned by the software giant. Microsoft will retain ownership of approximately 275 Aol patents and will license the additional 650 Aol patents to be transferred to Facebook. “Today’s agreement with Facebook enables us to recoup over half of our costs while achieving our goals from the AOL auction,” said Brad Smith, executive vice president and general counsel of Microsoft. “As we said earlier this month, we had submitted the winning AOL bid in order to obtain a durable license to the full AOL portfolio and ownership of certain patents that complement our existing portfolio.” Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s general counsel, said, “this is another significant step in our ongoing process of building an intellectual property portfolio to protect Facebook’s interests over the long term.” The joint press release follows below. More →
AOL and Microsoft on Monday announced an agreement in which the software giant will purchase 800 patents from AOL in a $1.056 billion cash deal. Microsoft will also license more than 300 additional patents from AOL as part of the agreement. “The agreement with Microsoft represents the culmination of a robust auction process for our patent portfolio,” said Tim Armstrong, AOL’s chairman and CEO. “We continue to hold a valuable patent portfolio as highlighted by the license we entered into with Microsoft. The combined sale and licensing arrangement unlocks current dollar value for our shareholders and enables AOL to continue to aggressively execute on our strategy to create long-term shareholder value.” The portfolio sold relates to advertising, search, content generation and management, social networking, mapping, multimedia/streaming and security. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of 2012, pending regulatory approval. Read on for AOL’s press release. More →
Reuters is reporting that AOL, Inc. is contemplating a breakup through “a complicated series of transactions” that could end in a merger with search giant Yahoo!. The publication is citing “sources close to the plans” and adds that “the latest discussions derive from plans contemplated in 2008 and 2009 before Time Warner spun off AOL to Time Warner shareholders.” Both AOL and Yahoo! declined to comment on the report when contacted by Reuters; AOL’s stock price rose slightly on the news. More →
Analytics company ComScore has released its October search engine market share numbers and… instead of making you fire up your search-site of choice and finding the information yourself, we thought we would just put it right there for you. October’s search numbers are as follows: Google 66.3%, up from 66.1% in September; Bing 11.5%, up from 11.2% in September; Yahoo 16.5%, down from 16.7% the month prior; Ask.com 3.6% down 0.1% from the previous month; and AOL 2.1%, down from 2.3%. We are curious to see how/if the recent release of Windows Phone will help Bing’s search numbers. We’ll find out next month.
Remember when you could download all of the MP3s you wanted from peer-to-peer site Napster and not get sued by the RIAA? Remember trying to find an audio player that would play all of those pesky MP3s? Remember Winamp?!? Initially monikered WinAMP, the audio player was first released on April 21, 1997. Winamp gained popularity among audiophiles for being feature-rich, small, free, and compatible. Winamp also won fans over with its skinable interface, allowing you to inflict your personal steez on your media player. Winamp was developed by Nullsoft, a company who was known for their llama logo and humorous opening sound clip: “Winamp, it really whips the llama’s ass!” Winamp is still very much alive, and very much available; although it is now owned by AOL. Hit up their website and take a trip down memory lane.
BGR Throwback Thursday is a weekly series covering our (and your) favorite gadgets — and in this case software — of yesterday and yesteryea
Google, Inc. has purchased internet VoIP company Global IP Solutions for a cool $68.2 million; a 27.5% premium over the company’s current stock price. While Global IP may not be a household name, you might be familiar with what they provide and to whom they provide it: the back-end VoIP engine used by the Yahoo!, AIM, WebEx, Baidu, and Lotus chat systems. Google continues to bolster its portfolio of acquired companies that supplement its Google Voice and Google Talk services — you may recall Google purchasing internet chat/VoIP company Gizmo5 several months ago — but we have yet to see any drastic feature changes/additions in said services. The future looks bright for Google Voice and Talk…although we do wonder about the VoIP fate of Yahoo! et. al now that Google owns their voice over IP engine. More →
Today, ComScore released its search engine market share numbers for February 2010, and to be honest, there wasn’t much movement. Google and Bing both gained a little ground: Google’s market share rose 0.1 percentage point from 65.4% to 65.5% while Bing’s share gained 0.2% rising from 11.3% to 11.5%. Yahoo and Ask both gave up a little bit of the search pie: Yahoo declined from 17% to 16.8% and Ask fell slightly from 3.8% to 3.7% market share. AOL’s slice of search remained unchanged at around 2.5%. We’ve got the full report, and all the insipid details that go with it, linked up for you. More →
AOL introduced on Thursday a new sync application, AOL Sync, that will sync your AOL address book and calendar with Outlook and mobile phones. AOL has partnered with Funambol to deliver this bidirectional, over-the-air sync client. Funambol, for those who don’t know, is a popular open source synchronization solution that uses SyncML to push PIM data to mobile devices and desktop applications. Basically, it’s the poor man’s Exchange / BES. The AOL sync client supports Outlook, Outlook Express and both Windows Mobile phones and BlackBerry handsets. You will need to install the sync client on your phone or desktop, configure it to sync with the AOL servers and voila, automatic OTA bidirectional syncing. Though it is not listed as being a supported device, there is a Funambol sync client for the iPhone and for Thunderbird / Sunbird (experimental) as well. If you can get the AOL settings, it may be worth a try to see if those other platforms work, too. If you are an AOL user, give it a try and let us know if the new client lives up to AOL’s claims.
By now you all have heard that BlackBerry BIS 2.5 is rolling out to U.S. carriers on June 29th. Heck, there’s even going to be some downtime. But, maybe that isn’t enough? Maybe you’d like more information. We’ve definitely got you covered in that area. We just got a hold of this presentation outlining BIS 2.5 and all the various features. The sad part? As some of you know, all the sexy stuff requires BlackBerry OS 4.5 which according to the presentation will not be available until September. That’s not to say some of you aren’t running it already, but September guys? For reals? Head on over to the gallery to check it out for yourself, but we’ll break down the more interesting stuff here for all you lazy bums:
- You can save attachments including audio and video formats.
- Full list of supported downloadable attachments are: .doc, .ppt., .xls, .wpd, .txt, .html, .pdf, .zip, and the aforementioned audio / video formats.
- File size of attachments is limited to 3MB.
- The 4.5 OS will be “available for all BlackBerry’s in September.” This includes the 8100, 8800, 8820, 8300, 8310, 8120, and the 8110. No 8320 love?
- “If a BlackBerry launches before September, it will have 4.5 software.”
- Addition of push AOL email and Hotmail/MSN accounts.