Ina Fried

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Exclusive: AOL’s Mobile Chief Talks With Mobilized, Offers a Glimpse of Editions

When AOL’s Brad Garlinghouse first approached David Temkin last year about taking a job, Temkin had the reaction most techies have: he couldn’t imagine working at AOL.

But Garlinghouse convinced him that the New AOL was different than the dial-up Internet Service Provider most people picture in their minds. And Temkin was being recruited for an important job: centralizing the company’s mobile efforts to ensure that emerging non-PC devices got the attention they deserved.

Temkin accepted and, nine months later, speaks excitedly about a number of the company’s mobile efforts, including a revamped HTML5 version of the AOL home page designed for touch screens and a mobile version of Engadget that gets more traffic than than its desktop Website.

“This is not your father’s AOL,” Temkin said.

But he’s even more jazzed about what is yet to come, including an iPad version of Moviefone. It has a very “swipey” feel and even features a recording of the service’s iconic voice (actually that of Moviefone editor Russ Leatherman)

Temkin has also overseen an effort to develop and launch a number of mobile-first projects. One new project, a music app set to be announced at South By Southwest later this week, was built in just a month and a half, Temkin said. That includes the time from concept, negotiating the necessary business deals and building the apps.

Another is the company’s Editions tablet project–a personalized magazine app due to launch by mid-year.

The idea is to have something more highly designed than Flipboard and more customized that News Corp.’s Daily.

Temkin gave Mobilized a brief preview of an early version of Editions. It’s designed to be a 20-to-30-page publication that one can read in a single sitting, made up of articles from more than 30,000 sources–both AOL and non-AOL–sorted into traditional newspaper-like categories such as business, sports and technology.

It aims to offer a measure of local content by tapping into AOL’s Patch effort, though Temkin said that company is looking at ways to deliver even more local stuff.

“I think we need more than that,” he said.

Among its features is the ability to look at a piece of content and say whether you like it and what of its attributes you like.

“We are feeling pretty good about how it is coming together,” he said.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik