Company / division: Verizon
AOL Instant Messenger is Shutting Down After 20 Years (Oct 6, 2017)
AOL has begun telling its few remaining users that AIM – its 20-year-old instant messaging service – will be shutting down in December. This clearly isn’t big news in the tech world, given that very few people still use the service and there are far better replacements in the world. But I’m including it today because it’s a great example of the way products tend to stick around long after the early adopter has moved on to newer, shinier things, and often long after most people might assume they’d been killed off. Whenever I write about BlackBerry, for example, I hear from people surprised to hear they’re still around, and most people would probably be surprised to hear that AOL as a company is still in business (albeit now owned by Verizon alongside Yahoo). That’s worth remembering because so much tech news coverage is driven by the cutting edge and the early adopter rather than covering the way mainstream users engage with technology, the products and services they use, and their perceptions of things. (Incidentally, I haven’t been engaging in the nostalgia many others have been today in regard to AIM – I never used it much, I suspect because it was far less popular in the UK, where I grew up, than here in the US).
The Yahoo breach reported before its acquisition by Verizon closed, and which had been said to affect 1 billion accounts, is now reported to have affected all 3 billion accounts Yahoo had. That could be a bit of a misleading number, given that there’s no way Yahoo had 3 billion separate customers – many of these accounts were likely dormant and duplicates of other accounts, so the actual number of people affected is likely far smaller, and the number who will have had sensitive information shared even smaller. But it’s still a staggering number. However, I’d bet that with the ongoing chatter about the Equifax hack (including the former CEO’s testimony in Congress this week), as well as the broad political story around tech companies and Russian election meddling, this will blow over really quickly and the additional fallout for Verizon and/or the Yahoo brand will be minimal. That may be sad, but no less true for that.
Verizon-Yahoo Deal Closes (Jun 13, 2017)
Verizon Had $100bn Offer for Charter Rebuffed (Jun 1, 2017)
AT&T-Straight Path Deal Becomes Verizon-Straight Path Deal (May 11, 2017)
Verizon today announced its Q1 2017 results, and they completely explained the company’s unexpected and rapid reintroduction of unlimited wireless plans in the quarter. Before it reintroduced those plans, it was on a trajectory for by far the worst postpaid phone losses it’s ever seen, and even with the little bit of growth it saw after the launch, it still had its worst quarter ever by some margin. Tablets also shrank for the first time ever, which in turn led to the company’s first-ever postpaid net losses in a quarter. Churn was up, average revenue per account was down… this was a terrible quarter for Verizon, only salvaged partly by the unlimited launch. Q2 and the rest of the year should be quite a bit better, but it’s clear that Verizon has been suffering recently, most likely at the hands of both T-Mobile and Sprint, which has explicitly targeted it in its advertising. Outside the wireless business, things weren’t that much better – wireline revenues were fairly flat, while margins improved a little. But there’s really no growth driver in the business at the moment, as essentially every part of the business is flat or declining, though the whole thing is still highly profitable.