Ah, yes. Schadenfreude. It’s becoming something of a theme here on the NUblog. We felt not-very-shameful joy for Extend’s layoffs, and have been whoopin’ it up shoveling dirt on the grave that AOL dug for its stillborn Omen II of a fetus, AOLTV.
In case anyone’s wondering, this AOLTV thing is the online juggernaut’s attempt at “convergence,” which, as we have demonstrated over and over and over again, does not and cannot be made to work. (Read the superspecial AOL disembowelment over in the MogulWatch special report.)
In merely the latest instance of bad press (despite what PR apparatchiks tell you, there very much is such a thing: Ask Richard Jewell), Daniel Greenberg in the Washington Post writes:
The single most useful thing a smart set-top box can do is simply present all your available channels in a grid.... But AOLTV does this by grouping your TV channels by categories – news, movies, music, sports and so on. It refuses to display them all in a single list, the way most people are used to channel surfing. You have to navigate through several menus and a lot of clicks to go from your local networks to a music channel. This is a nuisance. Even a tech-support rep candidly admitted it took him “about five days” to get used to it, though now he likes it more.
(He would say that. The walls have ears, and tech support is the lowest rung on the high-tech totem pole, a gulag from which the only escape is a slightly larger veal-fattening pen or selling encyclopediæ door-to-door. Can you say “climate of fear”?)
We’re not done yet:
But when you select an AOLTV channel, it changes the TV channel too. I wanted to check the news on the data side of AOLTV while watching a movie, but when I selected the AOL News channel, it flipped over to AOL merger partner Time Warner’s CNN Headline News.
Throughout cyberspace echo the cries of politically-correct comedian Iggy Catalpa: “Conspiracy!”
AOLTV asked me to agree to be switched to the $21.95 monthly billing plan, even though I was already paying on an annual basis. A call to AOL confirmed that my plan was not switched.... AOLTV does, however, succeed in ensuring that lots of screen real estate is given over to ads.
And there’s one thing we don’t get about AOLTV: Just how do you use it for AOL’s true killer app, cybersex? With a keyboard and a remote control, just how is one-handed typing possible?
AOLTV: The Internet’s first Ishtar.
Posted on 2000-12-12