AOL is conducting internal tests on a new version of AOL Mail, two sources tell us.
SIlicon Valley product boss Brad Garlinghouse is supervising the project, code-named "Phoenix". The name is appropriate, because AOL Mail needs a rise from the ashes.
It's been a rough 12 years for AOL Mail since it was popular enough to be featured in the title of a Nora Ephron's popular RomCom "You've Got Mail!"
From a top position, AOL Mail has fallen to fifth in overall market share. Unique visitors to AOL Mail are down 32 per cent year-over-year. ComScore ranks it behind Yahoo, MSN, Google and MySpace.
Sources confirm changes to the new product include more SMS and AIM integration, Gmail-like archiving, and an emphasis on more powerful search. Instead of serving lots of ads, insiders say the new AOL email will funnel users into AOL content sites (where they'll see plenty of brand advertising.) There is talk of tighter integration with MapQuest.
The stat AOLers are passing around internally: The average consumer now has 2.4 email addresses – not including "other inboxes" like Facebook and Twitter. The number is rising.
AOL began fixing Aol Mail earlier this year by removing 60 per cent of the ads splattered across the product. AOL also began recycling old email addresses, allowing new users to get the addresses they really want.