AOL changes look, opens email, gets more social

aol_sept_mock_v5.jpgAOL has relaunched with a redesigned page. It has also unveiled a new ‘every email’ feature that allows consumers to access multiple email services and integrates access to social networking sites.

Effectively AOL is getting more ‘social’ by allowing users to access not just AOL and AIM email on their AOL page but also Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail. Paid Content points out that Hotmail is not directly accessible through, so AOL is providing a link that can be inserted in one of the module email slots and and a link to Microsoft feedback so people can ask for the feature.

 In addition to being more open, AOL hopes the email aggregation will help recapture some of the user attention it lost before people leaving the ISP were allowed to keep their AOL addressesPaid Content.

AOL said that over the next eight weeks, it will launch tools and features to further personalize the page. This means opening up to third party content and services for the first time, including networking feeds like Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and Twitter.

Personalized Web pages like Netvibes or Pageflakes or even Google’s iGoogle and Yahoo’s MyYahoo have become more popular for users.

PE Hub talks to a disillusioned Facebook developer


As Facebook’s developers conference kicks off on Wednesday, PE Hub’s Connie Loizos interviews Jason Holloway, cofounder and CEO of Face it!, a startup in Palo Alto that makes Facebook applications for corporate customers like Adidas.

Initially excited about Facebook opening its platform to developers, Holloway is now a bit less so.

Why are you frustrated with Facebook?The pendulum just feels like it has swung so far in the opposite direction [of where it was in May 2007] that it feels a little punitive. The restrictions they’ve put on viral growth are extreme.

The clock is ticking in Hollywood

hollywood.jpgTick, tock, tick, tock.

The countdown is underway in Hollywood, with just hours to go before the contract covering 120,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild expires. What happens next is anybody’s guess, though it would be some time before actors walked off the job.

Indeed, SAG president Alan Rosenberg said in a statement that it had “taken no steps to initiate a strike authorization vote” and that any speculation was “simply a distraction.”

The Hollywood Reporter writes that several options are left for the guild and the studios. “They could negotiate a contract extension, which could be by day, week or month, and keep talking; the studios could lock out the actors; or SAG could seek a strike-authorization vote from its membership, which will be at least a two-week process as the negotiating committee must vote on whether to bring a strike.”

A primer on Bill Gates

gates1.jpgOh, by the way, you may have missed it, but today is Bill Gates’ last day on the job at Microsoft. 

For good reason, there has been no shortage of coverage today with reporters covering every angle of the story.

A good deal of the writing has focussed on Gates’ legacy over the three decades he ran Microsoft.

McCain Facebook game pokes fun at pork

mccaingame.JPGSort of like Walter Mondale’s 1984 political slogan, “Where’s the Beef?,” the 2008 political campaign is all about pork- pork barrelling, that is.

John McCain’s campaign last week launched a video game on Facebook called “Pork Invaders,” a spoof on the 1978 arcade favorite “Space Invaders” that takes aim at pork barrelling, or government spending that aims to satisfy a group of voters in exchange for their political support. 

In the game, players use arrow keys to shift a McCain logo across the screen to shoot red “vetoes” at a herd of pigs looming above.  But watch out, the pigs are ready to aim at and, well, soil, the Arizona Senator’s logo.  The more pigs players “veto,” the larger the amount of dollars saved in the budget. 

Another big weekend for Paramount Pix

indyjones.jpgTip your fedora to Viacom’s Paramount Pictures.

Summer’s not yet in full swing, but the studio already has two big hits, “Iron Man,” which has banked nearly $500 million worldwide and now “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which brought in more than $300 million this weekend, Reuters reports.

The tally marked the second-highest U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend opening in history, despite some mixed reviews for the film starring Harrison Ford as the eponymous archeologist.

Paramount’s success could extend over the coming weeks with the release of “Kung Fu Panda.” But the Wall Street Journal points out that because major studios are laying off risk in many movie projects, they are also limiting the amount of money the can take in. Such is the case with both “Iron Man” and “Kung Fu Panda.”

Social ‘nets are nice but where’s the money?

diller2.jpgBarry Diller likes social networks. He says they function as telephones used to: they help us communicate with each other. But one thing they don’t do is make money. Here’s what he told the Goldman Sachs Ninth Annual Internet Conference today in Vegas:

In social networks, the only way you get paid is from advertising and advertising has … on social networks has proved to be not particularly effective.   

That’s not to say things can’t pick up:   

It probably will find ways to be effective but it hasn’t been and so you can’t say okay, lets find widgets and all of these things to put on all of these services.

Yahoo, Microsoft may want to check with Icahn

yahoo.jpgSo Microsoft is now proposing a new deal: This one could be some sort of partnership or joint venture for search-related advertising to take on Google Inc, the New York Times reports.

Just one problem. Carl Icahn doesn’t appear to be hot on the idea. Reuters, citing a person familiar his with the financier’s thinking, reports that this latest talk about an partial Microsoft-Yahoo alliance could prompt the billionaire investor to press Yahoo to further pursue a deal with Google.

“Microsoft is trying to get the milk without buying the cow, and if you look at Icahn’s history, he has never been used that way,” said this person. “He does not want to see Yahoo pushed into some joint venture with Microsoft and is not going to be used to push Yahoo into it.”

Michael Arrington: Journalist, Lawyer, Self-parodist

Arrington_on_FacebookTechCrunchTechCrunch publisher and lead writer Michael Arrington got a jump on other April Fool’s pranksters with a Monday, March 31 post entitled “Why We’re Suing Facebook for $25 million in Statutory Damages”

But Arrington gave away the punchline at a news conference at Facebook offices in mid-March, when he surprised other reporters by volunteering how he and his lawyer had thought of suing Facebook for violations to Arrington’s privacy. It was all a big joke, Arrington, formerly a Sillicon Valley lawyer, said at the time.


His Monday post says TechCrunch is filing a lawsuit against Facebook on April 1 seeking $25 million in damages, along with a related civil case for assault and battery and infliction of emotional distress.