Microsoft's Next Victim: AOL
The way that AOL should counter Microsoft is to move many of it services to P2P connections. All of what Hailstorm and AOL does, and will ever do, can be done better via a combination of a desktop content management system (CMS – database, CMS, scripting engine, and http server) and a P2P instant messaging connection. In this way, AOL can keep costs down while taking advantage of broadband connections (most of the interaction will be between consumer desktops and not with AOL's servers). It would also allow the company to gain control over what will become the most important data store on the planet — the desktop database on consumer desktops.
Look, Microsoft has made a strategic mistake. They are centralizing in the hope of gaining greater levels of control over consumer data and services. What they really should be doing is decentralizing control and providing people with the software to manage their own relationships (both with each other and their distributed devices). This strategic blunder has created a golden opportunity for AOL. A distributed P2P-based AOL would not only be inexpensive to operate, but would also provide the company with a way to infest corporate networks much faster than Microsoft's centralized .Net approach (note: Microsoft's investment in Groove is in part an admission of this). AOL needs to act, and act fast. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]