AOL Pulls The Trigger: Direct Access To Competing Services On AOL.com

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On Monday we posted a leaked screenshot showing a redesigned AOL homepage that included integration with third party email services (Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail), personalized bookmarks linking anywhere, integration with third party social networks (Facebook and MySpace) and a RSS reader.

The screenshot was genuine, and AOL is now rolling out some of these features. The major email competitors are all now included on the top right of the AOL.com home page, which reaches 105 million people worldwide each month (Comscore July 2008). The changes are described here in detail.

This is a clear acknowledgment that AOL is no longer a walled garden, something it’s users (at least the ones not on dial up) figured out some time in the last millennium.

But credit where credit is due – none of the other major Internet sites give direct access to competing services directly from their main home page. AOL continues to push forward and try new things.

Look for the other changes in yesterday’s screenshot to go live in October – Bookmarks, social networks and a RSS reader, all on the home page. AOL says they will also be inserting direct inks to third party news sources via Relegence, a company they acquired in 2006 and began integrating into AOL Finance in late 2007.

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