AOL to take on MySpace

AOL to take on MySpace

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
AOL's AIM division will launch soon a product called AIM Pages, a community page service much like MySpace. PaidContent.org has the lowdown.

What does AOL bring to the table that could make it better than MySpace? AIM integration, for one thing. There are millions of AOL Instant Messenger users today, which is a built-in network to market the service to. That doesn't necessarily make the AIM Pages product better than another service, such as MySpace, but the success of any social service depends on the community that uses it much more so than on the product's features. (If you doubt that, compare MySpace's primitive design tools to any of the other, newer, community page sites, such as TagWorld [column]. Who's in the lead? Not the product with the better UI or features).

Will AIM Pages win over the cool kids? They might be using AIM for instant messaging, but for personal publishing, that group is entrenched in MySpace and FaceBook. It's a fickle audience, constantly self-renewing, so over the long term, there's potential for any competitor to MySpace, especially one that the publisher can easily reach, via, say, an entrenched instant-messaging platform.

What about the grown-ups? That's a demographic that hasn't adopted personal pages to the same extent younger people have, so the market is wide open. AIM Pages could play in this market, as could several new community sites that are just now getting off the ground, such as eSnips, the Black Stripe, and many others.