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Summary:

Earthlink’s foray into RSS/Social Bookmarking is hot news of the day, but Atlanta-based company is not done with what is turning out to be a total Web 2.0 makeover. Earthlink’s plans to offer more web-based services. Craig Forman, President of Earthlink’s Value-Added Services, who was formerly […]

Earthlink’s foray into RSS/Social Bookmarking is hot news of the day, but Atlanta-based company is not done with what is turning out to be a total Web 2.0 makeover. Earthlink’s plans to offer more web-based services.

Craig Forman, President of Earthlink’s Value-Added Services, who was formerly in charge of News and Info at Yahoo, told us that Earthlink has been working on new applications. Earthlink subscribers will soon get a chance to try out another new web based service, Earthlink WebLife, a new photo and media sharing service. The service will come with one GB of storage for its users.

All of the web-based plans are part of Earthlink’s broader scheme to convert from a former dial-up company to a broadband services firm that not only sells broadband, but all broadband applications. Muni WiFi and VoIP are two areas where the company has focused so far, but now it is trying to introduce other applications. Earthlink user base is much more mainstream and as a result, the company is trying to use “web 2.0″ technologies to create simply, yet rich user experiences.

All this development is not cheap. Forman says Earthlink’s investment in value-added services for the web is going to have a material impact on its top line. Muni WiFi might be the biggest investment of the year. But there’s no question that the company has to adapt. It’s the same problem AOL has. They both just hope that spending money, will eventually lead to making it.

Update: Earthlink emailed us to say that the company soft-launched the photo sharing product a few weeks ago. They did mention that in our earlier conversation.

  1. Anyone else think this is just another weak attempt by a large corporation to jump on the ‘web 2.0′ bandwagon while buzzwords are hot?

    I’m not convinced that the Earthlink is making a good move here. Maybe we are in a ‘web 2.0′ bubble. When large corporations like this start succumbing to hot trends, the end is usually near. Not to say I’m a nay-sayer or a doubter of Earthlink’s technology, but I’m not sure there is a quality fit between Earthlink’s new services and their customer base.

    They are simply re-creating existing new web technologies under their umbrella (i.e. social bookmarking and photo sharing) in what appears to be an attempt at creating a sexier image.

    My personal belief is that a company who focuses on internet access should stick to their core competency and not try to be something it isn’t. Obviously, the wifi and VOIP areas are heating up and this could be an extremely good opportunity for Earthlink to capitalize on those trends which seem like a better fit.

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  2. Interesting point of view, but it’s worth highlighting that over 5.5 million people today start their internet experience with EarthLink and our PeoplePC brand and millions more already use our products online, making our total monthly unique users more than 12 million. We’re not remaking our image. We’re working to provide more useful products.

    I can see why it might look like a “jump on the Web 2.0 bandwagon” to some. But these new products — including the VoIP products you mention — all are aimed at providing essential and valuable new web applications for users — current and future. That’s no fad.

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  3. Thanks for the post Craig. I didn’t want to sound controversial, but I just hate to see companies diverge and implement new technologies simply because it’s the ‘sexy’ thing to do in the current web landscape – even though it may not fit with company strategy.

    Obviously you know your strategy and users better than I, so you are in a better position to comment about the matter.

    All I can say is to stay focused on your core competencies and continually improve the user experience.

    Good luck with your launch Craig. Cheers.

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  4. Instead of building their own web services, EarthLink should have utilized existing services that are already popular. SBC/AT&T partnered with Yahoo a long time ago to provide email, photos, blogs, web storage…etc. Value added services are best provided by partners. This enables companies to focus on their core competencies and yet remain competitive with their value added services.

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  5. I think they should just Close Down and rethink the whole operation…

    Seems these days everyone is trying to Catch up with their competitors…

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  6. Mohammed, I think the SBC/Yahoo partnership is a smart and effective one for sure. But what makes EarthLink different is that we’ve got the equivalent of both the SBC(access and voice) side of things and Yahoo (products and services layer) organically within the same company. We get to choose on a case-by-case basis which services would best be developed in-house, and which would best be served by partnerships. And in truth, in many cases it’s not as cut-and-dried as that. I think when you really look at it, most meaningful projects involve a blend of partner relationships and in-house development. Any significant web application usually depends on multiple players working together in some form or another.

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  7. Web 2.0 is more about establishing community ties, which Mindspring was famous for. (ELN bought Mindspring). Residential ISPs like ELN have to start building value/community to keep users from walking to the Phone company, whose network they are forced to use. Even the Helio cell service is based on Sprint’s cell network. ELN is moving into building its own network – but that is an incredible journey away from the core competency of ELN, which has been Marketing. Muni Wi-Fi is a dangerous game right now. I’m curious how the purchase of New Edge and the investment in Covad will pay off. The Web 2.0 apps are just to help sell advertising in the old Portal model.

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  8. For a secure, fast and reliable backups of all your photos you can take a look at IBackup (www.ibackup.com). None other than PC World recently rated IBackup as the `best all-around’ service’ in a review of online backup services.

    I’ve been using IBackup for Windows (www.ibackup.com/ibwin_new.htm’)that not only backups up my collection of personal photos, but also allows me to schedule backups. You can even drag-and drop files and folders to get them backed up. IBackup for Windows, by default, does not consume too much bandwidth as it compresses data during transmission and transfers only modified portions of changed files.

    Securely store your photos and access them from anywhere with IBackup. View them as thumbnails or as an animated slide show using the Media Gallery in IBackup’s browser-based application ‘Web-Manager’. If you have image files in a folder, Web-Manager automatically senses the presence of these images and displays these images in the ‘Media Gallery’. You can click on the ‘Media Gallery’ option to view thumbnails of these images. Just click on these thumbnails to view the images. There are options to view the next and previous images.

    You can also view all the images stored in a particular folder as an automated slide show. You will find this useful for presentation of your business documents/ images. You can even share an entire folder containing images with friends and family with the various options provided.

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  9. Hi, you can also try IBackup for Windows for secure backups of important data. IBackup has been around for some time and from my own experience I recommend it for fast and easy backups and restores.

    IBackup is fast and it does incremental and compressed backups. IBackup is like an extra hard drive right on your computer and it allows you to store your important documents and files securely online. It also protects you from data loss caused by system crash, drive failures, virus attack and theft. Using their easy-to-use wizards, you can easily do interactive backups, restores and schedule backups and restores. You can backup data by `mirroring,’ which maintains the absolute path of the source files. You don’t have to worry about security, as all data transfer is encrypted with 128-bit SSL encryption.

    The coolest thing about IBackup for Windows is that you can map’ your online account as alocal drive’ on your computer and work on the data as you normally do. For this you will have to download and install IDrive. With IDrive share files or folders with others for collaborative access. All you need to do is just create a sharable links for the file/folder and email the links.

    You can `privately share’ data with another IBackup user with the help of Web-Manager. In other words, an IBackup user can instantly share selected data with another user. This feature can also be turned off whenever required. You can use Web-Manager to share files by creating sharable links and emailing them to others. Besides backing up multimedia files, Web-Manager allows users to easily manage multimedia files and photos with options for slideshow of photos.

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