The portal strategy is a relic of the late nineties, a leftover from newspapers blending content for mass audiences. Companies who continued to pursue that strategy, most notably Yahoo and AOL, have rightfully been labelled relics as well.
That’s why I’m happy to hear that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who jumped to the troubled tech titan from Google just over a hundred days ago, sees the folly of the portal strategy. Acknowledging the fragmentation of media, the very phenomenon that makes Google search so valuable, Armstrong is pushing two very modern ideas within the company: niche content and superdistribution. He properly positions the former to provide depth, and the latter to provide speed.
If that strategy sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the strategy of a good blog network. AOL is about to spin off from Time Warner through an IPO; the company needs a conrete direction and a fresh perspective to attract investors and survive the spinoff. You know the portal strategy is dead when your grandmother’s dialup ISP abandons it.
(Photo via John Batelle.)