By Paul Lombino
Back on August 28, 1996, I was so technologically hip. That was the date I signed up for my first email account with America Online. In its prime, AOL was the Papa Bear of providers with over 30 million subscribers worldwide. And in those days you had to pay for service. Times have changed. In 2012, many younger e-savvy users view AOL as a toothless relic of better times.
Today, I am among the mere 4.4 million AOL patrons clinging to the past. Or so it was brought to my attention last month when a friend, Alisa, commented on an earlier blog, noting: “… as someone who still has an AOL address (and nothing says ‘so last decade’ than an AOL address) I can appreciate the adjustment you had to make to transition your business to the web.”
So last decade?
Truth be told, my wife has been urging me to change my email service provider for several years for totally cosmetic reasons.
“Your clients,” she advised, “will know you’re older because the kids these days don’t use AOL.” Older? It’s not like I’m using the Pony Express.
It gets worse.
A comparison of free email services in 2012 by TopTenReviews ranked AOL fourth behind Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo. Fourth place doesn’t seem so bad, especially when compared to a 2006 review by PC World magazine, which labeled AOL the “Worst Tech Product of All Time,” claiming the venerable email provider had — wait for it — the “stigma of being the online service for people who don’t know any better.”
Now that’s getting personal, PC World.
I don’t often feel compelled to defend remote corporate giants, but AOL’s email service includes all the features I need: unlimited storage, 16-MB file attachment capacity, the ability to create folders and lists, address book, spell checker, auto reply, search, filters, drag-n-drop functionality, mobile capability, IMAP access — whatever that is — and some other stuff. Last year, AOL even bought The Huffington Post. And who’s cooler than Arianna Huffington?
Over the years I have opened accounts with Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo. But I have always come back to AOL because it does the job efficiently and, like an old pair of jeans, I feel comfortable in them. If that dates me, so be it.
Okay, I’m not cutting edge. But unless someone can present a more cogent argument than “it makes you look like a fuddy-duddy” (sorry, dear), for the foreseeable future you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m off to recharge my flip phone.