AOL to close services, Weblogs Inc blogs affected

AOL will close Bluestring, Xdrive, MyMobile and AOL Pictures as part of a restructure, and Weblogs Inc blogs have not missed out, according to a report at PaidContent.

Of the services being cut, most would be unfamiliar names to most reading this, perhaps for some with the exception of the online storage service Xdrive, acquired by AOL in August 2005. This lack of consumer awareness for all four products is the exact reason behind their closure.

The changes at Weblogs Inc include the closure of DIY Life, and content cuts among a number of blogs including The Unofficial Apple Weblog and DownloadSquad.

DIY Life will be put on “hiatus” starting August 1, although noted internally that it may be resurrected in the future. DIY Life launched in July 31st, 2007, and was billed as “Covering the spectrum of DIY, the blog provides a steady stream of DIY projects, how-to’s, ideas, tips, reviews, even safety recalls.”

The content cuts across other Weblogs Inc blog will have more impact. Writers have been told to cease posting to blogs within the network until August 1, with some exceptions. The memo refers to all “DLS” bloggers within Weblogs Inc, but it’s not clear from my research exactly which blogs are covered in this definition. The L could represent lifestyle, so blogs not being updated may include Gadling, Green Daily, Luxist, ParentDish, Slashfood, Styledash and That’s Fit. S for sports blogs, but the D is a mystery, as Weblogs Inc labels its tech blogs under technology and gaming. PaidContent names Download Squad and The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW), suggesting that blogs in the technology and gaming streams may be broadly affected. TUAW is named as an exception, with a limited number of app reviews able to be posted during this time. There is no mention on Engadget, although it is unlikely that AOL would shut down posting on the networks leading blog, and as of the time of writing Engadget had fresh material on the site.

It’s a risky move by AOL. Ceasing production on a range of blogs, even for a week, will result in readers looking elsewhere for content, and although many may return, the longer the blogs remain idle, the less likely that will happen.

The question that also should be asked is how AOL has turned a company that was seemingly thriving under Jason Calacanis into a growing burial ground for blogs. These cuts are far from the first in the Weblogs Inc stable, and they won’t be the last. Were they too ambitious in trying to grow the network, subsequently failing to master verticals as they went along, or is it simply poor management? We may never know.