AOL Update

David Cassel (
Tue, 29 Oct 1996 23:41:12 -0800 (PST)

AOL announced today a variety of flat-rate pricing options, including
unlimited access to the service for $20 a month.  Time will tell how this
affects AOL's profitability, but in a variety of other areas, the
announcement has ramifications. 

* Elimination of GNN. sent mail to all members today--but it looked like it had
been ghost-written.  "[W]e believe AOL offers an online Internet service
that no one else can match...with AOL offering new rates competitive with
those of ISPs, we believe there is no reason for anyone to retain an ISP
membership, including GNN."  Accusations of "top-down" decisions reach a
new pitch:  all GNN members are told AOL would "transition your
membership" to AOL--including the automatic forwarding of GNN mail to an
AOL address.  Now GNN's members have to fight for the screen names not
already taken by AOL's 6 million members. 

* The class action lawsuit.  

AOL offered current and former subscribers a free hour on the system as
settlement of a class action over $13 million of disputed subscriber fees.
AOL distributed the free hours before the judge had approved the
settlement.  Now it can be told:  if they'd waited until after the
settlement was approved, the free hours would be worthless.  A month ago
the judge had only granted his "tentative" approval.  The legal drama
drags on in a separate hearing for the attorneys fees which was postponed
from Friday's hearing date to an undetermined date in the future. 

* Remote Staffers

A remote staffer contacted me with an anonymous tip.  AOL has
traditionally compensated their Guides and Room Hosts with free time on
the system.  There's a problem, now.  As an outside observer, it's not
clear whether their stashes of free time will have any value at all, or
how the staffers will be compensated in the future--but "when a couple of
Guides publically swear at AOL in the presence of other volunteers, you
should have a clue that there's something unpopular going on."  Rumor has
it the accounts will now be paid for by the staffers themselves,
out-of-pocket.  Stay tuned! 

(Remote staffers are invited to use this list as a forum to air grievances
anonymously.  Comments are encouraged from GNN staff!) 

*Mac 3.0 delayed

Mac isn't back--AOL announced a delay in the release date of their 3.0
software for Macs. Apparently, it's technical problems.  "In a message to
beta testers yesterday," MacSense reported, "AOL announced that it was
delaying the release of the 68K version of 3.0 until performance issues
are resolved."  Instead, AOL has released a "preview"  version (a
euphemism for not-out-of-beta). 

A story about AOL's announcements will appear on the Netly News at

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