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Wednesday, 07/23/03

Many stories today breathlessly report that AOL lost hundreds of thousands of subscribers this last quarter. Here's one from the Washington Post, which I mention for the two interesting facts withheld until the last two paragraphs.

First, though 846,000 subscribers ditched AOL in the last quarter, the company has "25 to 26 million", which puts the subscriber loss at well below two standard deviations (okay, I'm guessing at the distribution, sue me). Call me when you have some news, like the second novel fact that the company claims 45 percent of the losses come from "intentionally pruning unprofitable customers." I'd like to see one of those 380,700 letters the company presumably sent out, because I'm curious about the language used to part ways with an unprofitable customer.

Speaking of language, AOL may have given us a valuable new gift in the intentional prune. I'm sure you can think of a million wonderful uses for this swell neologism, which I'm not sure is euphemistic or not. What happened to those eggs that were in the refrigerator? They were three weeks old, I intentionally pruned them. I'll bet you find yourself using this fine new phrase by lunchtime tomorrow. 09:13PM «

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