Andrew Lavallee writes for the Wall Street Journal that Earthlink is interested in purchasing AOL’s dialup subscriber business. At this point it does indeed look like a promising pair because there aren’t that many players trying to consolidate yesterday’s markets.
For a bit of history, AOL was late to diversify its business away from its once dominant dial up empire it built. It missed the broadband revolution and ended up pretty much selling access to its walled garden of content and email services to broadband users who had another internet service provider but still wanted their AOL mail.
Even worse was how late AOL was to modernizing the monetization of their content. While other portals built publishing empires and search advertising AOL kept their content walled to subscribers, essentially sticking to a paid content business model where they would charge monthly fees for dial up access and content or just the content while the user paid someone else. They eventually woke up and opened up their AOL content as a public portal but they were once again too late to be a dominant player and now merely have a lot of fading eyeballs that need to be sold to a real internet company.
Needless to say, the web has moved on and AOL is a declining asset that Time Warner is famously willing to part with. And its dial up business is a declining asset within this declining asset that has few takers.