RealTime IT News

AOL, CompUSA Aim for Novices

CompUSA Inc. and America Online, Inc. Friday announced plans to combine forces to dominate the new-user segment of the computer hardware and Internet access markets.

The national computer retailer and online monolith formed a marketing alliance designed to provide novice computer and Internet consumers with access, education and the technical support necessary to meet their high-maintenance needs.

CompUSA (CPU) will offer an enhanced line of personal computers that have been optimized for AOL members. The hardware line-up includes customized keyboards and one-button access to AOL with pre-loaded AOL and CompuServe Interactive Services Inc. software. Reduced rates for unlimited 24-hour technical support are also part of the agreement.

CompUSA will continue to offer $400 off from any personal computer purchase when customers sign-up for 3-years of CompuServe or AOL dial-up services.

In addition, CompUSA and AOL will work together to develop training classes on how to effectively use AOL software. The classes will be offered at select CompUSA in-store training facilities.

Bob Pittman, AOL president and chief operating officer, said the agreement would help AOL maintain a firm hold on the new-user market.

"This alliance with CompUSA gives us the opportunity to bring the next wave of consumers online in new and exciting ways, and provide them with the education and support they need to get the most out of their online experience," Pittman said.

James F. Halpin, CompUSA president and chief executive officer, said the hardware and online service combination makes for an attractive offer to new users.

"Our innovative partnership with America Online (AOL) will make CompUSA the leading one-stop destination for consumers seeking to go online for the first time with AOL and CompuServe services. Not only will we provide these consumers with a PC completely ready to go online with AOL, but we will have the opportunity to teach them how to maximize the value of their online experience."