Subject: Re: Washington Post: Rumor: AOL, RH, in aquisition talks
From: Tom Lord <>
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 03:51:45 -0800 (PST)

       I wrote:

       AOL knows all that.  [that open standards for everything
       are the way forward; that their job is maintain a brand
       and to be synonymous, in popular culture, with certain 

Some evidence that "AOL knows all that": their advertising.  The bell
chimes and "you've got mail" voice that now make everyone think
instantly of email.  The emphasis in their ads on simplicity ("easier
than ever!") and the instant gratification to be obtained by signing
up.  They're working on making their brand synonymous with what are,
in fact, commodity services, and on making AOL's services the
friendliest, warm-and-fuzziest way to get access to those commodities:
something they'll need to do more and more of as the the standards

AOL isn't controlling their messaging system in order to say "only AOL
has messaging," just to keep anyone else from saying "join your
friends who chat over AOL at half the price".  

The next stage of services won't afford AOL that luxury of
exclusivity.  On the other hand, they'll be much more complicated so
the barrier to providing individual consumers easy access to the whole
bundle will be higher, and the value of doing so will be greater to
those individuals.