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OMG, you're still using AOL for e-mail?

AOL sign

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: AOL officially splits from Time Warner today. The online company's trying to reinvent itself, offering new services -- even a new logo. For a lot of people, AOL was an introduction to e-mail. But a lot's changed. And they're hoping a new image helps them to move the product forward. Marketplace's Stacey Vanek-Smith reports.


Stacey Vanek-Smith: A few months ago, I started getting e-mails from friends and colleagues, saying they were switching their e-mail from Yahoo or Hotmail to G-mail -- that's Google.

I have a Yahoo address. Do they know something I don't? Is my e-mail address sending its own message about me? Duke University marketing professor Ken Wilbur says yes.

Ken Wilbur: It's like your haircut or the designer of the shirt that you're wearing -- it's something that people notice and it's part of the package.

I needed to know more, so I turned to Dalaise Michaelis. He's Marketplace's Web developer and he thinks about these kinds of things.

Dalaise Michaelis: As soon as somebody says they are, you know, so-and-so at Earthlink.net or Hotmail.com, really it's an "Oh My God" moment. Do you know what the Internet is? Yahoo is like, OK. And then if you're G-mail, you're like, I can take you seriously.

Vanek-Smith: What about AOL?

Michaelis: You said AOL? Oh wow, is it still around? I mean, Ican't believe it's still around.

Burt Flickinger: Had my AOL e-mail account for a little over 15 years.

Burt Flickinger is the managing director of the Strategic Resource Group. He tells retailers how to market things to young shoppers. What do clients say when he gives them his e-mail?

Burt Flickinger: When I give them an AOL email address, they say, I can't believe you're still on AOL. I say well, it's simple, I have one of the original addresses with no numbers so it's easier for you to type.

There are 50 million Flickingers out there. Hotmail has 200 million users. Yahoo 260 million. G-mail is gaining on them, but 500 million people can't be uncool!

Still, it's not about numbers says Duke's Ken Wilbur. He says an e4mail address is part of your brand. And if you're looking for a job or networking, the wrong address can make you look out of touch.

Wilbur: I really like to think of it as sort of the card stock you print your business cards on. You know, if you are out there looking for a job, it certainly is something you might want to think about in terms of what kind of image you're projecting.

So if you think your e-mail address needs to send a new message.. might be time to tell the old one:

AOL: Goodbye.

In Los Angeles, at Gmail.com, I'm Stacey Vanek Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.
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Burt Flickinger, Managing Director: making his name a Global Retail Trademark. What about Burt IV?

i parted from aol years ago when i found out they didn't offfer dsl in my location, so i switched to sbc global (yahoo), which has now become at&t for my dsl connection. the cool thing about aol is that my old email accounts are still active. occasionally i check them and they're full of spam. i use gmail now because of the great spam blockers. i use yahoo only for messages i get from yahoo groups.

Flickinger, nearly 60 years old, "...He TELLS retailers how to market things to young shoppers..." Hmmm. At nearly sixty years of age? This is an expert for this article? Where is Gen-Y on this one? Flickinger, a Woodstock-era, baby-boomer is no "young shopper" expert unless retailers are clueless.

Course, a gmail account could also say that a younger person is trying to be professional - if the account name doesn't have anything cute or a ridiculous amount of numbers. I'm thinking of how many different email accounts I had when younger...
Course, I say this and I'm on yahoo. no way are you getting me over to gmail!

I agree with Harry Lin. If you have your name with no numbers, no symbols or even something really short on your e-mail address you are rocking it, regardless of yahoo/hotmail/aol/etc. I have a hotmail account with 3 letters for 14 years now, and a yahoo with 4 letters for the same. Nobody gets it wrong and it's ultra easy giving it out when I need to, like to cs reps over the phone.

Several career/job search columns I've read recently said an AOL address is a likely black mark on your resume. Any HR folks out there care to comment on this? BTW, my Juno e-mail address (yes, without numbers) often draws good-natured ridicule from my friends.

Who cares whether someones e-mail address ends in yahoo.com or aol.com ?

Of course, a big difference between the free GMail account and the free Yahoo/AOL/Hotmail accounts is that GMail doesn't put an ad at the bottom of every message you send out... How professional does that look?

Burt Flickinger is a shameless self-promoter in the retail/consumer industry...wants to trademark his name and image at every opportunity. The goal? The renameing of the NFL's Buffalo Bills to the "Buffalo Burts". Thirty years in consumer goods arena. Nice try, Burt. Dream on.

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