AOL has started beta testing a new home page (the main AOL.com portal). AOL Senior Product Manager (and occasional TechCrunch contributor) Frank Gruber introduced it on his personal blog earlier today, although he is not the product manager for the product.
Nice portal…but it is nearly identical to Yahoo home page, which was redesigned last year. Click on the image above for a larger view. Internally, I’m hearing AOLers refer to the new portal as “the Yahoo Portal” although its official name is AOL 3.0.
Internet companies like to copy things from their competitors that work, but as we’ve seen even the largest companies sometimes get caught copying a little too much.
AOL says they are building best of breed products, not simply copying things from Google, Yahoo and others that are proven to work and porting them to its less cutting-edge audience. In the past year, though, we’ve seen them largely copy digg and then release a new mail product that would have been awesome two years ago but which stacks up poorly to the current versions of Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
David Liu, Senior Vice President of Portals & Personal Media at AOL, has told me that a number of new products in development are going to be impressive. I’ve seen early demos and wireframes of some of them, and I think he’s right. The company needs a category killer to get some street cred.