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AOL Eyes Broadband With 5.0 Rollout

Internet giant America Online Inc. Tuesday released version 5.0 of its access software which is designed to take advantage of the increasing proliferation of broadband Internet access.

The upgrade offers greater convenience, enhanced personalization and high-speed connectivity for AOL members with broadband access. CD-ROMs with the new version will be distributed by mail and retail stores nationwide.

AOL (AOL) hopes 5.0 will spur a growth in membership, membership retention and online shopping.

"We expect AOL 5.0 will become the next major catalyst for membership growth, time spent online, member retention and e-commerce. We think AOL 5.0 will be a great hit with mass-market consumers and are thrilled to offer unprecedented worldwide and in-store distribution," said Bob Pittman, AOL's president and chief operating officer.

This might be happening already. Since the company previewed 5.0 on its service two weeks ago, members have already downloaded 2 million copies of the software, exceeding the early user pace of last year's 4.0 release.

Highlights of AOL 5.0 include:

  • AOL Search -- a tool where members can search AOL's content without leaving the service. Integrates keyword navigation system and search directly into tool bar.
  • My Calendar -- new calendar that allows members to plan and manage their lives by tacking appointments, birthdays and anniversaries. Available from any computer. Eventually users will receive alerts about movie premieres, sport schedules and album releases.
  • You've Got Pictures -- easily accessible on the new Welcome screen. Members can order reprints, enlargements and photo gifts.
  • Shop @ AOL -- new shopping destination features shopping convenience in addition to unique customer services.
  • AOL-Plus -- available later this year, it will detect whether a member is accessing the service with broadband connectivity and then display a "multimedia tower" with enriched content, services and features.



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