Cisco and AOL both reported earnings today. Cisco, maker of Internet plumbing, had a very nice turnaround ; AOL posted its first profit since de-coupling from Time Warner – a penny a share. Not bad, all things considered.
If you follow Cisco you know they have invested in getting more people to push more bits over the Internet. Think Gillette getting people to shave their entire bodies. (Okay, bad analogy.) Cisco has pushed videoconferencing for years and not too long ago bought Flip the hot video camera company. The more digital info that goes over the net, the more routers and switches and stock Cisco sells.
This is exactly the approach Aol needs to take. Aol makes money on advertising so it needs to create content that makes more eyeballs and fingers go to their sites. Right now that means hiring great writers, videographers, creative people and buying and adding to the fold well-trafficked sites. Better content, better audience numbers. But Aol is not really thinking out of the box yet. It needs to come up with content types that haven’t been done. As the Brits might say, they need to be more inno-vit-iv. How about an easy to use, easy to read email device for the AARP crowd? Or an educational games for infants? Or a remote home automation portal that lets you turn on lights from the street? Aol is still thinking in 2 dimensions, a la a publisher. Like Cisco, Mr. Armstrong needs to feed the beast. Let’s pick it up!