RealTime IT News

Big Blue Adds AOL on Select PCs

America Online Inc. and IBM today announced a multi-year marketing agreement under which AOL's Interactive Service software will be featured via a desktop icon on IBM consumer Aptiva and ThinkPad computers.

An AOL spokesperson declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal.

As part of the companies' joint marketing initiative, AOL said its software will be bundled with IBM-branded consumer modems. In addition, an IBM "Welcome Pack" sponsored by AOL will feature an information packet that will be shipped with Aptiva PCs.

AOL has recently made significant strides in capturing prime PC desktop real estate from computer makers such as Compaq Computer Corp. which announced a multi-year agreement with the online service to feature an AOL icon on all of its Presario PC desktops.

"Computer makers are sending a strong message," said Wendy Goldberg, an AOL spokesperson. "People are buying PCs to go online, and to consumers going online means AOL."

Last week Packard Bell said it was expanding its relationship with AOL, and plans to feature AOL as a preferred Internet service on its Packard Bell and NEC Ready-branded personal computers.

"We know the online interactive experience is a key component for consumers buying IBM computers," said Jim Firestone, general manager, IBM Consumer Division. "With this announcement, we will be partnering with the world's leading interactive online service to provide consumers with a powerful computing experience."

As reported recently in InternetNews.com's Internet Stock Report, the industry implications of computer manufacturers featuring access to the Net from the desktop are of major significance.

It appears that while Microsoft Corp. continues to be distracted by the Department of Justice antitrust case, PC makers are beginning to leverage the desktop real estate to build valuable business partnerships with leading ISPs and Web portals.