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AOL Begins Shutdown Of AOL Pictures, BlueString And Xdrive

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In July we wrote about AOL’s plans to shutter a number of services based on an internal email from EVP Products and Marketing Kevin Conroy.

Next week, AOL says, they’ll begin to communicate the news to consumers around the shutdown of three of those properties – AOL Pictures, BlueString and Xdrive.
AOL Pictures will close in December, and users will have the chance to move photos to American Greetings PhotoWorks, download photos to a personal computer, or purchase an archive of photos on DVD. Photos will be available until June 2009.

XDrive and Bluestring will close on December 31. Users can download files or purchase a DVD until that time. After that, it sounds like the files will be deleted.

MyMobile, which is still in beta, will also likely be shut down by end of year.

A FAQ is reprinted below.


AOL Pictures

Q. When will the AOL Pictures service close?

A. The AOL Pictures service will continue until December 31, 2008. After this date, the service will close down and all photos stored will no longer be accessible through AOL Pictures. However, users will still be able to retrieve their images through our online photo service partner, American Greetings PhotoWorks, after registering for a free American Greetings PhotoWorks account. Users must register for an American Greetings PhotoWorks account by June 30, 2009 to transition their assets.

Q. When/how will users be notified?

A. Anyone who has stored photos on AOL Pictures will receive a series of emails from AOL beginning the week of October 27, 2008 and continuing until the site closes in December.

Q. What are the options for retrieving photos from AOL Pictures?

A. There are three options for retrieving photos from AOL Pictures. Users may choose as many of these options as they like, before December 31, 2008:

1. Register with American Greetings PhotoWorks to access photos;

2. Download photos to a personal computer;

3. Buy an archive of photos on DVD.

For more information and specific instructions, users can go to pictures.aol.com.

Q. What happens to photos if users do not take action before December 31, 2008?

From January 1, 2009 through June 30, 2009, users can register for a free PhotoWorks account to access their pictures.

Q. Will this impact any other AOL products or services?

A. After December 31, AOL Pictures will no longer be integrated with any other AOL product or service, and embed links to photos stored on AOL Pictures will become obsolete. Additionally, the AOL Pictures APIs will be removed from dev.aol.com and no longer work with 3rd party services.

Q. Why did AOL choose PhotoWorks exclusively?

A. After careful consideration and close examination, AOL Pictures chose PhotoWorks as the best option for users. AOL and American Greetings have a long standing relationship providing AOL users personal and social content for personal expression. For over 10 years, American Greetings has been AOL’s exclusive provider of ecards and greetings. With continued free, unlimited photo storing and sharing, access to PhotoWorks’ leading selection of photo merchandise including American Greetings photo cards, photo books, keepsakes, calendars and prints, PhotoWorks offers AOL Pictures users a perfect new home for their photo expressions.

Xdrive/BlueString

Q. When will Xdrive and BlueString close?

A. The Xdrive and BlueString services will close on December 31, 2008. After this date, all files and data stored on the services will be permanently deleted. To retrieve files, users should go to Xdrive and log in using their Xdrive or BlueString user ID and password.

Q. When will users be notified?

A. Email notification to users will begin on November 5, 2008.

Q. What options do users have for retrieving files?

A. BlueString uses the Xdrive online storage service to store photos, videos and music uploaded through BlueString, so both BlueString and Xdrive users need to visit the Xdrive site to retrieve their files, and log in using an Xdrive or BlueString user ID and password.

Once there, users have several options and tools for retrieving files.

· Create a single .zip file, containing all of the files in the Xdrive account, which can then be downloaded to a computer;
· Purchase an archive of files on DVD;
· Download files through the standard Xdrive Web and Desktop Clients.

Step-by-step instructions on how to take any of the above actions will be provided on Xdrive.com and AOL will also list a number of online storage services that provide similar functionality.

Q. What happens if users don’t do anything to retrieve files by December 31, 2008?

A. After December 31, 2008, users will no longer be able to access their Xdrive accounts. All files and data will be permanently deleted and users will no longer be able to retrieve files.

Q. Will users who pay for storage through Xdrive receive a refund?

A. All billing for the Xdrive service will cease as of November 5, 2008 when email notifications are sent out to users. Users who subscribe to the Xdrive annual plan will receive a pro-rated refund based on the annual plan renewal date, and credited to the payment method on file within six to eight weeks.

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