"The company’s entire subscription-based strategy is based on the concept of "owning the customer." That is, of developing a continuing, direct relationship with consumers. That means branding is very important and that enforcing the relationship through monthly bills is just as important."
"Owning the customer". Master and slave dialectic for the 21st century. Since getting CD-Roms in the mail is hardly a physical threat on our freedom, we’ll fall into servitude to a few information masters only if we passively accept to.
08/28/05 update: the whole thing blew in AOL’s face which is belatedly trying to turn itself into an ad-supported free web portal.