AOL is testing a program to let its members customize their AOL Mail address by using a domain name of their choice instead of the default aol.com, the Dulles, Virginia, Internet service provider and Web portal announced Thursday.
AOL members interested in the MyeAddress test program can find more information and sign up online.
The move is another attempt by AOL to increase the allure of the services it provides paying customers, who have been canceling their AOL subscriptions at an alarming rate in the past several years. Most former AOL subscribers graduated from AOL’s slower dial-up access to broadband services from other ISPs (Internet service providers).
Choosing a new domain name will not affect the member’s AOL Mail account. The password will remain the same, as will the mailbox and its contents. The difference will be that all mail the member sends will carry the new domain name, while the member will be able to receive mail sent to both domains in the same mailbox.
AOL warns, however, that MyeAddress accounts will be canceled at the test program’s end, and that, consequently, participants should choose a domain name they’re not interested in using after the program closes.
Participating in the test program is free but limited to AOL subscribers. Once the beta period ends, there will be a fee attached to MyeAddress.
AOL is providing MyeAddress in conjunction with Affinity Internet Inc., which will process domain name registrations, according to AOL.
MyeAddress subscribers will be able to use their chosen domain name as the address to a Web site as well, although this isn’t part of the beta program currently. When this becomes available, Affinity will provide Web hosting services.
AOL ended this year’s first quarter with 18.6 million U.S. subscribers, down by 3.1 million from 2005’s first quarter. AOL had 24 million subscribers in 2004’s first quarter.
Although AOL is refocusing its business on being an open Web portal and selling online ads, the transition is far from complete. Its 2006 first-quarter revenue declined 7 percent to US$2 billion, caused by a 13 percent fall in subscription revenue. Operating income fell 14 percent to $269 million.