Some folks at AOL recently contacted me and asked me to do a demo of their new email service designed to make staying connected fast and simple,Â (See video demo above.)Â The online tool is still in private beta named – appropriately –Â Project Phoenix by AOL mail.Â I was intrigued. And I tried to be serious and professional during the demo. But I kept busting out laughing. The product is nice. It wasn’t that. Not at all. So I was forced to explain.
You see, back in 1992 when I was just a pup and working at PC World in San Francisco, I attended a launch demo for the original AOL for Windows. I know that makes me sound like I’m currently about 100. But it wasn’t that long ago — in non-tech years — that AOL brought email out of the exclusive and refined world of corporate communications and into the homes of regular folks via dial-up modems. The demo of Project Phoenix by AOL mail was making me feel as if I’d just gotten out of the Hot Tub Time Machine. I had to check my calendar to be sure the date was 2011.
Nope. Time is fine. It’s just AOL rising from the ashes of the original AOL and reinventing itself. (I’m sure you saw the recent purchase of the Huffington Post by same.) And, like the proverbial bird, Project Phoenix is bigger and better than the original. It’s like a super-organizer for your communications. It pulls all your email accounts — easily through a simple wizard my kids could figure out — into one place. And it makes it easy to shoot out a message to anyone whether they are Facebook loiterers, teen texters, or email oldsters. One log in to reach everyone. You can also get a new email address with one of the snazzy domain names they are offering up. (I’m tempted to get email@example.com for Valentine’sÂ Day. TooÂ cheesy?)
Or five of you can do all of this anyway. Because the service is currently in aÂ privateÂ beta so most people can only drop their name in the hopper and wait for an invite. But you know me. And I have five invitations to give away.
And I’m giving them to the first five [real] people to comment below.