Will AOL Finally Go Free?

Long chained to dial-up subscriptions, the company could open its doors wide to compete

During the Web's infancy---long before Google was a site, let alone a verb--AOL reigned supreme and alone. But 17 years after modems squawked onto the debut dial-ups, competition has sped ahead, and AOL may finally be ditching its once lucrative subscription model for a more promising ad-driven approach.

Why? For AOL, for any company, fourth place just isn't good enough. With Yahoo!, Google and MSN having built better webtraps, AOL is preparing to reinvent itself to catch up. Its parent company, Time Warner (which is also TIME's parent), announced it will present a new plan for AOL on Aug. 2. The 2000...

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