America Online is about to come out of its corner fighting as it gets ready to slug it out with Internet heavyweights such as MySpace, Skype and Google.
Ignoring shouts from the crowd that ‘they’re a big organisation but they’re out of shape’, AOL CEO Jonathan Miller told USA Today that they’re ready to KO the opposition with a salvo of killer punches.
New video search tools
First up is a new video search tool which integrates with the innovative Truveo technology which AOL bought in December.
The company claim that by using Truveo’s “visual crawlers”, they can now find and index high-quality video on the Web that traditional search engines can’t see, and will include AOL Hi-Q Videos (DVD-quality) in their video indexes.
The 1.8 million videos already indexed through Truveo will be added to AOL’s existing archive of 20,000+ original and licensed videos, along with the 2.5 million Web videos indexed through Singingfish.
Come mid-March, AOL will also be making 14,000 Warner Brothers-owned classic TV shows available for free (but supported by advertising), as part of its new In2TV service.
Mashing up MySpace
With 43 million active users signed up to their AIM messaging service, AOL is hoping that with their substantial music and video offerings, they’ll be able to mount an effective challenge to the immensely successful MySpace social networking community.
Seeing as they already operate the world’s most popular messaging service, AOL should be in a strong position to take on Murdoch’s company.
As Miller points out, with so many people already using Buddy Lists to chat with others, “the barrier to getting people to use it would be very low.”
With the new service, subscribers could simply click on a name in a Buddy List and be taken directly to that person’s personal website.
Charlene Li, analyst at Forrester Research, reckoned AOL’s plans made perfect sense, adding: “The key is making a strong link with AOL Music. Part of the reason MySpace works so well is it has music.”
Miller also revealed plans to turn AIM into a full voice platform which would compete directly with Skype.
Although Google and Yahoo instant message services already offer VoIP calls, AOL’s market dominance could quickly establish them as a force in cheap Internet phone calling.
Expected to should roll out in late spring, AOL also intends to open up the new AIM voice service to outside software developers.
No doubt AIM users will be hoping that this may finally produce long-overdue tools to let them chat with users of other messaging services.