Talk:Online service provider

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Before the mid90s, "online service provider" referred specifically to CompuServe, Prodigy, and America Online nee Q-Link. Surely there were other services with a similar architecture, but I can't think of them, and those were by far the biggest three. They were considerably more than merely a BBS, but didn't yet have connections to the Internet so they weren't ISPs.

My brain is too tired right now to be up to the task of describing the real differences between BBS's, online services, ISPs, networks in general, and the Internet in particular. And that is the key contribution needed for this article.

At this time, the online service providers do still provide their original online service, which is separate from the Internet that they also provide a connection to. (I haven't checked, but I think Prodigy still does?) However, a few insiders speculate that this may disappear in the future, leaving only the Internet connection and a few customer-access-only pages on the World Wide Web.

Um, I guess EWorld is on the list as an online service provider. It was a version of AOL whose servers were leased out to Apple Computer for their exclusive use as an online service for Apple customers. It operated under the EWorld brand name. Despite good support at first from Apple, it never attracted a critical mass of subscribers.

MSN 1980's or 1995?[edit]

Page says: "In the mid-1980s graphics-only online services such as Prodigy, MSN, and Quantum Link ("Q-Link", which was later merged with its Mac-only sister company, America OnLine) sprang up." I'm pretty sure that MSN was launched in around August 1995, with a beta trial here in Australia - which I was part of - a few months earlier. It was to be a 'rival' to the internet - effectively a walled garden of content similar to compuserve. Is there any way of confirming the launch date of MSN, did you guys in the States have it earlier? Laurel Papworth 21:01, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Too focused on ISP / telco / connectivity[edit]

The article seems to be quite much focused on ISP's. Although it is mentioned at the beginning that online service providers can be "web sites", there seems to be no further explanations or taxonomy about what and who such web sites could be. In my opinion, this comes down to neglecting a whole range of online service providers that don't provide connectivity / Internet access but what provide online services and content. Such service providers are email providers, news providers (press), enternainment providers (music, movie and aming portals), e-shopping sites (online stores), e-finance and e-banking sites, e-health sites, e-government sites, and many more. I suggest outlining all these various kinds of examples.

Peter.keller (talk) 17:54, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

About Internet industry[edit]

Actually the intention was to create an article that would suit particularly for the Internet companies like Google or Facebook, Inc. or Yahoo. In infoxbox of "industry section" of many Internet companies have simple put Internet, which I think is not appropriate. Its unfortunate that we don't have an Internet industry type of article. Please also talk with User talk:Rangoon11 who has good contribution about many Internet company related articles.--(talk→ Kkm010 ←track) 10:54, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

We need to split this article[edit]

This article is currently mixing two different meaning of the them "Online service provider" in the same article. As has been mentioned on this talk page already the term originally referred to referred to a kind of private network you could subscribe to and access serious serious services like e-mail, chat, reading news stories, searching for information, downloading programs, etc. that you would now perform on the web or via internet connected applications. Examples of "Online Service Providers" as they where referred to as in the 80's and 90's include Compuserve, AOL, Genie, Prodigy, eWorld, and MSN. Thus we should have a separate article on that subject alone and cover the more recent broader use the term as it has been applied to the internet this article article. Since the term "Online service" was how such services where general refereed to back then we could use that title for the separate article and keep the broader meaning here under the longer title. -- (talk) 09:16, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

This article is definitely incoherent. We actually have three topics here, and this should be a disambiguation page because "online service provider" has meant multiple things, even simultaneously:
  • Vertical online service a.k.a. Proprietary online service; after the beginnings of the public, commercial Internet and the Web in the early 1990s, those exact terms were commonly used; the ambiguity was apparent and immediate, as AOL, CompuServe, BIX, etc. began offering Internet "gateways", and some OSPs had beat them to the punch for some time (the WELL) mostly by being built on Unix and providing shell accounts in addition to proprietary forum interfaces, and a new class of ISPs arose that added BBS-like interfaces. Vertical online service provision vs. Internet service provision became roles that many companies played simultaneously. I.e., we don't need "provider" in the title.
  • Telecommunications company; many, including some big players still around, e.g. Sprint, also provided proprietary (mostly business-oriented) data networks like Sprintnet, with their own interfaces, in addition to their more usual telephony services.
  • Internet service provider; we all know what an ISP is in the modern sense, and most of these today are more or less notable as such, despite any other business concerns. In the early to late 1990s this was not always the case, and the history section of that article should reflect that. For much of the late '90s, AOL, the largest of the vertical online services, also became one of the top ISPs, in a roundabout fashion. Today this term most often in the US refers to companies that are also telecommunications companies, though many smaller ISPs still survive; around the world they vary widely. Historically, many were also community networks and free-nets, and some of these still exist.

The main point is that these are all roles, or business niches, not companies, per se. The service provision is the topic, not the provider. AOL itself is great case in point. It started as a proprietary/vertical online service, became a hybrid OSP/ISP (and part of the AOL-Time-Warner media monster), then finally a Yahoo-clone portal and e-mail host. All one company (more or less; there's the whole merger and later corporate rearrangement stuff), but radically different roles, and it's long history has to be part of multiple articles.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:29, 3 July 2015 (UTC)