“You’ve got mail.” Remember those words? If you’re from the generation that might still have “aol” at the end of your email address, you may still even “hear” the voice that spoke those words every time you opened your AOL software: “You’ve got mail.” He was as ubiquitous as the free CDs you picked up anywhere and everywhere that first brought him into your home.

Funny to think of it now after the disruptive AOL grew so large that it swallowed up media giant Time Warner, only to settle into its current fifth-place status as a free email provider.

Like most businesses, the rise and fall of AOL exemplifies a new and disruptive company that bursts on the scene with a momentum that propels it to super-stature only to tumble from its peak when a new interloper takes its place.

However, when the service serves a functional purpose, it is likely to continue doing so for many years, never fully being replaced.

Turns out there are millions who still use AOL, and not just for email. As of last year, 2.1 million users were still using AOL dial-up to connect to the Internet, according to CNN. Are they old fashioned? Perhaps, or maybe they realize that change simply for the sake of change is unnecessary; it only becomes necessary when it serves a purpose.

There were two groups of professionals hosted at the recent 20th annual Transitions Academy in Orlando-the long-standing Pro Forum and the newly formed Change Agents. The Pro Forum consisted of 21 eyecare professionals who have been advising Transitions Optical for many years. The Change Agents were a new group composed of 18 Millennial ECPs who influence patients through blogs, social media and their professional networks.

One of the most effective companies in the optical business, Transitions Optical knows that there is room for both the tried-and-true as well as the up-and-coming. Just as tablets are not superseding desktops, streaming television is not eliminating broadcast, daily disposable contact lenses are not replacing two-week modalities, the new and disruptive are not taking over the old and established. As long as they serve a purpose, we need both.

Last year, Verizon completed its acquisition of AOL for $4.4 billion, 15 years after it joined forces with Time Warner, “widely considered one of the biggest business flops in U.S. history,” according to Fortune magazine, which surmised, “It’s likely just trying to gain some type of foothold in the changing online industry.”

AOL, like many companies that were once new and disruptive but could now be considered old and established, is not going anywhere. It’s here to stay, so firmly entrenched it doesn’t need to tell you that “You’ve got mail,” anymore. That’s probably because it did such a good job of making sending and receiving email so commonplace that we all know we’ve got mail…we’ve always got mail.


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