Earthlink To Launch Storage, Photo Sharing


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.



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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.

Dave Coustan

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.

Keith L. Dick

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

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


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.

Aidan Henry

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.

Craig Forman

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.

Aidan Henry

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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