Amidst all the talk about Facebook’s new messaging system, AOL’s trying to drum up some excitement about Project Phoenix, its new email and messaging service. Project Phoenix certainly looks more interesting the AOL of yesteryear, but an early video doesn’t look all that promising.
The Project Phoenix video is more talk than substance. Towards the end we get a glimpse at the UI and a couple of features. So far, I don’t see anything compelling enough to get me to switch from GMail, or even try the service out instead of giving Facebook’s new messaging platform a spin.
Who knows…I may end up reviving my @aol.com email address to give this service a shot when it’s released early next year. I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about AOL, but it was the center of my digital life starting in 1993 and throughout high school. AOL was my ISP, with my parents paying about $35 per month for dial-up service. I believe I had a 25 hour per month plan and my parents had to pay something like $2.99 for each additional hour of online time. I participated in AOL chat rooms and spent way too much time perusing AOL classifieds for cheap gadgets and computer gear. Instant messaging was fascinating and it was really exciting to actually get an email, along with the famous ‘You’ve Got Mail!’ chime. Virtually all of my friends that were online had an @aol.com email address.
Times have changed and I feel embarassed for those who still use AOL email as their primary email service (Mom, I’m talking about you…). There are just too many better alternatives out there. AOL’s had nearly 20 years to work on this whole messaging thing. I sure hope that there’s more to Project Phoneix than what’s hinted at in the video.