AOL Make Bitter Dig At Gmail – Audience Put Them In Their Place!

6 11 2008

(ex)Internet giant AOL recently decided enough was enough and produced a blog post accusing Google of stealing their ideas and features for their email platform – only to be brought back down to earth by the comments made on the post!

aol logoAOL started off the post by theming it around Halloween, accusing Gmail of having a ‘costume’, disguising the AOL email service as their own:

Happy Halloween Gmail! We knew you would have the best costume at the party, and who can blame you? We think it’s great that you’re using this holiday to pay homage to the one who started it all, who got 35 million people online at once, gave them all email, great content and messaging capabilities.

Now whilst it is true that AOL did have 35 million subscribers at one point, that was around about 2001, when they merged with Time Warner. Since then their subscribers rates have tumbled, as this chart shows (granted its from Wikipedia…), to around about the 8 million mark. They continue, moving on to name the features they accuse Google of copying through Gmail:

That costume is fabulous…clearly, the devil is in the details… and what’s that you’ve got there? An “experimental” instant-messaging feature built right into your mail service so people can use it to send text messages to their contacts’ phones? We love it – that was such a hit when we first introduced it so many years ago.

And those sidebar options – talk about getting it right… Adding gadgets to email that allow people to manage their calendars, access their favorite content and best Websites? Nice work. The idea of adding a side panel like that was one of our best. […] We’re sure you’ll get lots of compliments.

Finally, is that an “attachment warning” popping up on your back? Nice touch. We know nothing is more embarrassing than having to send an email twice because you forgot the attachment. Our users love this little reminder, and they have been praising it since we first implemented it back in 2007.

The AOL bloggers continue their tongue-in-cheek approach as they move on to the real point of their post:

They say imitation is the best form of flattery, so Gmail, we thank you and we are indeed very flattered. Putting together a costume that is so dead-on could not have been easy, and you’ve got it down pat. Trying to convince all the other kids at the party that the only thing to use is Gmail and putting out a press release every time you add a new button to the service is just so 1998. We’re telling you – this outfit brings back memories!

AOL accusing Google of being out of touch. Thank you! How apt an accusation! Next we’ll see a Sega Dreamcast blog accusing Xbox 360’s of being behind the times. AOL was a successful company and, similar to Microsoft, had its customers getting to the Internet through their own gateway as the only way they knew. But they blew it. They created a monster of a reputation for poor customer service and trapping customers in their plans. AOL paid for this in subscriber numbers and they’ve never recovered.

AOL’s bitter attack on Gmail was not lost on the readers of the blog however. Here is a selection of the best responses:

  • [Original Post] Hey, you might have some good ideas, but if you don’t implement them well, they mean nothing. […] Oh, I *meant* to get you a great present for your birthday, but… […] Mocking Gmail just makes you look petty and jealous.
  • [Original Post] Whoa, talk about bitter. And hypocritical. Just in July you were touting a draft feature that Gmail has had for ages. I don’t see crediting them for that.
  • [Original Post] Bit jealous, are we? It does seem seriously petty and small to go whining about stuff like this. Besides, none of the features you talk about are exclusive to you anyway. I don’t know any serious internet users who have @aol.com as their email. The overwhelming majority are people who are Internet neophytes.
  • [Original Post] AOL has caused me a lot of aggravation and frustration in the past. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Google services, they make my life easier and better. Remembering that AOL customer service supervisor laugh at me with that evil laugh, I say AOL is getting what it deserves in the marketplace.

My personal favourite comment was one of pure genius. They point us to a link. A link that demonstrates how AOL copied Yahoo’s homepage back in 2007. No, not just copied, basically lifted the entire design:

And one very good jibe as one last comment:

  • [Original Post] Somebody should have used google mail goggles before making the decision to publicize this letter 🙂

Priceless.

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2 responses

6 11 2008
Dan Waldron

Do you do blogroll exchanging? If you want to exchange links let me know.

Email me back if you’re interested.

6 11 2008
New Gadgets | AOL Make Bitter Dig At Gmail - Audience Put Them In Their Place!

[…] Original post by Just Google It […]

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