In an effort to move their focus to growing their online advertising business, AOL has announced that their software and email products will be free for broadband internet users. Dial-up users will obviously still have to pay for their account and dial-up needs which require the use of AOL equipment. It seems like the right move on AOL's part as a graph on (Giga)Om Malik's blog predicts only 10% of Internet users will still be using dial-up in 2010.
In the past 5 years or so, AOL has come under fire for maintaining a bad business strategy with sales people doing absolutely anything to keep their customers, even if it means offending them. By making their widely used email services free, AOL will start to transform their image to that of a friendly company instead of a brash, overbearing, War-of-the-Worlds super corporation.
In other AOL news, PostBubble has announced the first 10 Netscape navigators, or in Calacanis terms - paid users (1000/month is the going rate) of Netscape's digg clone. The navigators are expected to submit something like at least 150 stories a month to Netscape; that's not even minimum wage, but more than enough for that college kid sitting in a musky dorm doing it anyways. Several of the navigators were high-ranking users from social bookmarking and news sites like digg, Newsvine and Reddit.