TechCrunch reports that AOL.com is tearing down walls between its services and those from others. For example, it's now allowing users to access email from Yahoo! and Google on its page, as well as access social networks like Facebook and Beebo.
Traffic to the site, as a result, is up 14 percent to 33 million unique visitors, while competitors like Yahoo! and MSN have seen time spent on their portals decline.
Even so, does anyone care? This strikes me as an example of a legacy company opening up too late. The time to adopt open source, open standards, and/or open data is before the decline. "Open" is not redemptive. It is not a way to rescue a dying company. "Open," at least in open source, tends to accentuate and accelerate growth...or decline.
I'm glad that AOL has discovered a way to make itself more relevant to its fading installed base. Maybe, just maybe, this will make its site useful to a wider body of people, but I can't see a little openness turning AOL.com into the "must-visit" site of tomorrow. That is, unless it adds Baby Boomer social networking, as AOL's appeal to the youth crowd is minimal.