Twitter’s Downtime…Remember AOL’s Access Problems?

Twitter’s current issues may remind the older crowd of the issues that America Online faced in the late 1990s. AOL had been humming along in growth, and then they hit an inflection point. They changed their offering to a low-cost, flat-rate fee for Internet access. Eventually, so many people signed up and used AOL that many people couldn’t actually get online. As Wikipedia relates it:

Originally, AOL charged its users an hourly fee, but in 1996 this changed and a flat rate of $19.99 a month was charged. Within three years, AOL’s userbase grew to 10 million people. During this time, AOL connections would be flooded with users trying to get on, and many canceled their accounts due to constant busy signals (this was often joked “AOL” standing for “Always Off-Line”).

I remember the news stories, and threats of government investigations related to AOL’s inability to deliver the service they promised. Of course, we know how that tale ended. AOL emerged as a dominant player in its day, eventually acquiring Time Warner.

The service disruptions and the noise they created turned out to be signals about how important the service had become.

Twitter’s taking a lot of heat in the blogosphere right now. But I think TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington has it right today when he says:

I now need Twitter more than Twitter needs me.


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About Hutch Carpenter
Chief Scientist Revolution Credit

One Response to Twitter’s Downtime…Remember AOL’s Access Problems?

  1. Pingback: Brand Dialogue | Twitter: it’s 1993, all over again

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