SAN FRANCISCO—After a full day of pre-game activities, America Online Inc.s Tina Sharkey kicked off the ninth annual Connections Conference in San Francisco with a general glimpse of the online services future plans.
Sharkey, AOLs senior vice president of network & community programming, briefly mentioned the companys not-so-secret plans to relaunch its Web site, aol.com, later this summer. The site, which has mostly been a portal to AOLs services, will turn into a full-fledged content site, paid for by on-site advertising. It will also be home for the new AIM e-mail system, which was announced Wednesday.
She also briefly touched on VOD (video on demand) and how it will play a vital role in the revamped AOL.
As for how consumers will react to VOD over the Web, Sharkey said it will be a completely natural delivery system for the medium.
"Much like Google is a great way to find things on eBay, the Web will be the best way to find video on other platforms or on the Web," she said.
The rest of the speeches focused on AOLs determination to cater to the new Internet user. Sharkey said its no longer a place to "log on" but a place where people already are—all day, checking the weather, news, e-mail and in general, managing their lives.
"[This is] not my moms Internet," Sharkey said. "Its changing, and its changing because were looking at the share-shifting—the time people are looking at TV, reading a magazine, listening to the radio—theyre not replacing each other; theyre coming together."
Sharkey gave a brief overview of "a day in the life of AOL," to show how much Internet users access its services on a daily basis. Some of the statistics provided said that 53 percent of the Web audience visits the AOL network, almost 400 million e-mails are sent across the network, and 1.38 billion instant messages are sent using the AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) service.
These numbers might not be surprising, Sharkey said, but new elements have been added to the list of late, notably that in one day 20 million pictures have been shared over the AOL network, 560,000 blogs have been updated, and 1.8 million poll votes have been cast. And then there are AOL Music Sessions videos, like the one from rap artist 50 Cent, which was streamed 6.1 million times upon its initial debut.
"MTV would dream for numbers like that," Sharkey added.
Sharkey then talked about how Web users have started to control their own programming, especially the new "Generation C," short for Generation Content. This young group of users has created its own content online, through blogs, through sharing images, and by creating personalized "away" messages on AIM.
As for the Webs future, Sharkey said AOL will be keeping an eye on whats happening in real time, listening to what people talk about and trying to make everything look and feel alive.
"Its a people Web," she said. "We will be watching what they do, how they share and how viral it all becomes."
Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in Web services.