AOL Building MySpace Rival

Posted on January 30, 2006

A BusinessWeek article by Jon Fine says that AOL is planning to develop a MySpace-like community tool that will be launched from its AOL Instant Messenger platform. The new social network site is temporarily being called AIMSpace.
It won't be a site per se. Rather, the online giant is building a platform off its massively popular AOL Instant Messenger service to better enable its users to share and create content. That the internal shorthand for the project is "AIMspace" -- don't count on that being its real name -- testifies to how tightly the company plans to tie it to AIM, which the company says has 43 million users. (What is an IMer's "buddy list" if not a social network?) It also shows how MySpace has become the generic term for all social networking sites, which were the dark-horse mass media success story of 2005.
Jon Fine also reminds everyone of the collapse of earlier community portals like Geocities:
Eye-popping traffic numbers rung up by MySpace, facebook.com, and xanga.com, and those brands' meteoric rise, make it easy to forget just how devalued the phrase "Web community" once was. Not that long ago it was linked to flameouts and never-weres such as TheGlobe.com and Geocities. Back then, the notion of reader-produced content was, often correctly, interpreted as "we are too cheap to pay for it." That millions of consumers, and especially young ones, now find online pals' content -- be it photos, messages, or random musings -- more compelling than that of quote-unquote professionals is one of the bitterest pills Big Media has had to swallow of late.
The article says the first features of AOL's new platform could arrive as early as March. No matter what AOL does they will have trouble catching MySpace which is adding a million new members each week according to Rupert Murdoch.
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