I'll bite. If i would be a non-techie the things i would notice are:
* What's Jabber / XMPP? I don't know what that is. Why should it be in the title?
* All the screenshots (there are many!) basically look the same. I don't understand the conversations in the screenshots.
* It's not free.
* The first line "Conversations is an open source Jabber/XMPP client for Android 4.0+ smart phones.". What's open source? What's Jabber/XMPP? What's a 'client'? The only words i understand in this sentence are 'Android' and 'smart phone'.
* "Design principles" is not something i care about. Simply tell me what this product does.
* Clicking on 'Read more' gives me a text that is so technical i don't understand a single word of it ("XEP-0065: SOCKS5 Bytestreams - or rather mod_proxy65"?)
Hmm.. I was talking about the UI (I think that's a rather pretty client, comparable to the current WhatsApp/Telegram/whatever thing).
Again, comparing to Telegram  (see disclaimer in my previous post: I use that as well):
* Jabber/XMPP is a weird point. You wouldn't need Conversations if you wouldn't have a server to use. You pick up Conversations because a) some friend tells you to install it and connect it to their server or b) you have a server of your own. If you don't know what XMPP is, then yes - this client is not for you.
* Really? Can you look at the Telegram screenshots? Let me bite this time:
Hey Lucy, got a second?
As in the duration of 551557906200 periods of the radiation corresponding between the two superfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atoms? Yes, I might.
We need some data extracted from a secret chat…
* It's free. [2, GPL] I know, Joe User isn't going to build it, but again: You need a server for this to work. If you care about that, I'd say you have ways to save the 2.38 EUR if necessary.
The rest of your points are certainly valid (marketing for XMPP sucks), but again entirely different problems. I highly doubt that most people read the description of the Telegram or WhatsApp apps. Friends recommend it, people install it, use it, done. XMPP is a different case, because it requires a friendly server (and the post installation configuration step where you select one), but that's not quite relevant for the 'looks like something from the 21st century' discussion, is it?
I was trying to make the point that there are ~new~ and current clients for XMPP as well, even if Pidgin looks like shit.
You're right, of course. Unfortunately, the trend right now doesn't seem to be open protocols. Until the pendulum swings back again, i'd like to think that i'm beter off with a platform that isn't being run by Facebook.
What surprises me is how lazy and clueless mobile network operators seem to be despite the power they still hold. They have all the power they need to develop or implement modern messaging protocols. Granted they can't charge for it. Still seems a better option than pushing SMS, MMS and letting new players enter their yard.
I am all up for letting mobile network operators just provide internet services. Surely the trend seems to be to flush everything down the Internet tubes and if that's the future, we need something better than a couple of companies that do not respect free choice.
I feel like this is a perfect reason why this is a bad investment. Anyone who is still subscribed to AOL dialup is honestly probably a senior citizen or technology-illiterate. AOL is not even marketing their dialup service anymore. These people over time will slowly decline until those 2 million eventually hit zero. In fact, you can clearly see the nearly exponential downward trend right on the article you linked. This makes it a nice amount of basically free money for AOL currently, but an absolutely terrible investment for the future.
Even if there's good reason to use it, there's no potential for growth. The only way this can go is down. It's pretty much going to be a race to recoup the investment before all these rural areas are covered by cellular (even 2G would be faster than dialup!) or satellite internet becomes cheap enough.
Yes; Verizon has an offering designed explicitly for rural areas, but it's expensive. The linked article is from 2012, and prices have since declined, but the general gist of the service is the same: a big antenna you bolt to your house or a tree and will pull from an existing account-level share plan (if you have one).
People will have better luck with rural telephone companies trying to stay alive then big wireless carriers. Sprint and T-Mobile absolutely suck in coverage area for rural folks.
One example, Steele ND and the surrounding area is served by a small rural telephone company that is laying a lot of fibre (I'm hoping they head North). A 200M plan (no cap) for $45 a month. This is being repeated quite a lot in rural areas with rural cooperatives.
The last time I lived in a deep rural area (Norton, KS) there wasn't a good cell option. The cell tower that covered the town was flaky at best in terms of reception. So, I guess your mileage may vary applies in that situation?
If Verizon is trying to expand their wireless offerings into areas where dial-up is currently the only option, then having much more direct marketing access to those dial-up users sounds pretty useful for them.
Yes, an anecdotal example is my parents. They live 45 minutes outside of Columbus, OH and have a Verizon 4G adapter for their desktop. In fact some of the smaller carriers have poor cell/data coverage where they are.
Economics of covering the area. If it costs more to cover than they expect to make in any reasonable time frame, especially if it never breaks even when you account in maintenance, then they won't do it.
don't forget though, AOL owns TechCrunch, Engadget, Huffington Post, and a bunch of other crap, and they have a pretty massive ad platform. Id wager that the ad platform is what Verizon is really after here.......and maybe a nice bonus would be controlling huffington post and getting them to stop writing articles about how shitty comcast/verizon/twc are and how net neutrality is a good thing.....but that is just me being a bit speculative