The new Propeller, what were they thinking?

A new version of Propeller went live earlier today, complete with radical overhaul that included dropping Digg style voting and a look that screams news magazine.

I hate it, and many others will as well, however I know I’m not the target market. The market is the broader, mainstream non-tech market that Yahoo Buzz attracts, a market that is far more lucrative than the tech space alone.

Having said that, I don’t get the reason to change. Every metric I could find shows Propeller growing to this point, and a couple of months back it even passed Reddit to become the number two player in this space. Another bizarre move from a company (AOL) that never seems to keep to the same plan for longer than 6-12 months at a time? or have they done their homework and want to emulate Yahoo Buzz? Despite attempts to become more tech/ 2.0 savvy, AOL has always been a mainstream brand with a mainstream audience, so playing to this is playing to a strength.

The success or otherwise of the change will only be shown with time, so I’ll follow up the metrics in a month or so. My guess is they’ll lose a reasonable chunk of their userbase, the only question then becoming is will the mainstream audience they are targeting flock to it in large enough numbers to replace the lost members.