Various sites have mentioned to coming release of AOL Journals, in fact is made today’s Washington Post. For most existing bloggers this will probably end up being a positive development on the whole. It remains to be seen if “Journal” will replace “Blog” as the word most frequently used to describe the product of the blogosphere, although I have to agree that explaining your site using the word “Journal” will probably make more sense to your non blog aware friends and family. The extra visibility of the blogosphere certainly won’t hurt, even if 99.999% of the new AOL Journals are complete drivel. Another way to look at it is that there will be up to 34 million more sites that will blogroll InstaPundit.
The coming of the AOL Journals does hold the promise of shaking up the blogging world order though. Here’s a quick list of potential losers:
Google – Given the well documented troubles at Google subsidiary Blogger, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that many existing Blogger users who are also AOL members would make the switch.
MSN – Microsoft as major competitor to AOL in branded internet access via it’s MSN service will now be behind the curve feature-wise. This is actually a big deal for them as Microsoft has recognized the influence of blogging and has made baby steps towards supporting blogging and the various standards. Expect a MSN announcement very soon.
Existing Free Journal Sites – There could be a serious decline in the level of sign-ups for places like LiveJournal
Surely there are others, but I think you get the point… It will be interesting to see if “Journaling” becomes a feature of the value added market place for high speed residential services. That’s one of the last battlegrounds between the AOL, MSN, EarthLink and other ISP’s. AOL has set the bar in the right spot for users by adding the feature free of charge.
I think the arrival of AOL Journals will be positive for blogging software providers such as Movable Type, pMachine, GreyMatter, etc. as dedicated users of the new service may outgrow its, as yet unknown, limits and look for a full feature solution. This does seriously raise the bar for TypePad though as the features in the AOL Journal sound familiar to the TypePad benefits being described. Do not be supprised if one of the left behind ISP’s strikes a deal to offer a free TypePad “lite” service.