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AOL, Gateway Introduce Domestic Net Devices

America Online Inc. Wednesday coupled its highly-anticipated Netscape 6 launch by teaming with PC titan Gateway Inc. to roll out a suite of Net appliances featuring the world's largest online service

A manifestation of AOL's (AOL) "anywhere" plans, the devices will deliver AOL's content, features and services to consumers in every room of their homes.

The AOL Gateway (GTW) countertop appliance, wireless Web pad and desktop appliance are small, lightweight tools that will automatically launch the "Instant AOL" service, a customized version of AOL's convenient and easy-to-use software.

Powered by Netscape's Gecko technology, they will offer popular AOL content, e-mail, news and personalized services for busy households including AOL's My Calendar, recipes, coupons and grocery lists.

"This is a new market for all of us, so the devices we're showing today are just the beginning," Peter Ashkin, chief technology officer of Gateway said at Spring Internet World 2000.

Nearly all of AOL's features, including AOL Instant Messenger and chat, will be available on these devices.

Features of the AOL Gateway tools include:

  • Expected to ship by the end of this year, the countertop appliance may be mounted on any flat surface to offer quick and easy "touch" capability in virtually any room of the house
  • Due out in early 2001, the Web pad offers a wireless connection to a compact base station, enabling the consumer to use the appliance anywhere within the home
  • Larger than the AOL Gateway wireless Web pad and the AOL Gateway countertop appliance, the provide consumers a reliable connection and fast access to the features and content of AOL and the Internet. Due out by the end of 2000

"These easy-to-use appliances are an excellent way of providing the whole family convenient access to AOL's many popular features, content offerings and services from anywhere in the home," said Bob Pittman, AOL's president and chief operating officer.

Wednesday's deal is the continuation of a partnership by the two giants to bring easy-to-use Net products to the mass market. Last October, AOL pumped $800 million into the second direct seller of PCs. The play is a major coup for AOL, who is competing with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) in trying to bring portable Net appliances to life in consumers' homes.