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AOL Rode a Wave, Time Missed the Boat; How Steve Case's Crew Beat the Odds
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Acquisitions & mergers; Internet; Corporate histories
Author: Streitfeld, David
Date: Jan 16, 2000
Start Page: A.01
Section: A SECTION

The weird thing is that AOL never really has been about the World Wide Web, which is what most people now mean when they refer to the Internet. AOL always has been a sort of parallel private Web, one that began before the real thing and then tried to keep its members away from it. AOL only grudgingly provided its subscribers with Web access, fearful they would desert. The growth of the Web was supposed to kill proprietary online services. That was why the New Media committee at Time Warner had recommended against buying AOL in 1994.

Most recently the death knell has been the threat of superior Internet delivery systems like cable and wireless, which make AOL's dial-up phone connection seem as antiquated as tin cans and a string. The chance to use Time Warner's cable systems was a large impetus for AOL to propose the merger deal. But that doesn't mean there will be a happy ending. Some experts persuasively argue that a deal with Time Warner would really, finally, without question kill AOL. In the twinned tales of how AOL won and Time Warner lost the battle for online supremacy, the impending death of AOL is just about the only constant.

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