RealTime IT News

AOL, Samsung Strike Technology, Marketing Deal

AOL Time Warner continues trading advertising for technology, this time through an agreement that calls for Korean electronics giant Samsung to manufacture new consumer products, including an enhanced version of AOL's interactive TV platform.

The multi-year agreement calls for the New York-based media giant to provide Seoul's Samsung with marketing and advertising throughout its host of online and offline properties.

Specifically, AOL Time Warner said it would promote Samsung DVD players through print outlets, including People, Entertainment Weekly and Sports Illustrated magazines, as well as through its online properties America Online and Moviefone.com. Similarly, ads for Samsung's high-definition TV products and upcoming combined PDA and mobile phone will appear across AOL's television, print and online channels.

Closer to the 2002 Winter Games, AOL will be promoting a special contest, "Countdown to the Olympics," to subscribers of its America Online service; Samsung will provide the prizes and receive marketing throughout the service in conjunction with the giveaway.

In return for all of this promotion -- on which AOL did not put a dollar figure -- executives expect Samsung to help AOL roll out a new version of its interactive TV set-top box, which will incorporate the TiVo digital video recording service.

AOL has been wanting to provide digital recording since the middle of last year. Last June, it signed an agreement with San Jose, Calif.-based TiVo to provide its Personal TV recording service to AOLTV subscribers. But to roll out a TiVo-enhanced AOLTV box, AOL needed a manufacturing partner.

"We're pleased to announce this relationship with Samsung, one of the world's premier consumer electronics manufacturers," said AOLTV president Robert Friedman. "This agreement is another example of AOL Time Warner's unparalleled ability to use the combined strengths of our online, print and broadcast brands to help drive growth for our business partners, and ultimately offer increased value to consumers."

The co-branded product will combine the ability to record live TV with existing AOLTV features -- instant messaging, e-mail, and Web browsing -- likely strengthening the consumer appeal of the media giant's iTV service, an important cornerstone of its "AOL Anywhere" multi-platform strategy.

But the agreement likely won't end with AOLTV. The deal also allows for AOL to roll out future co-branded consumer electronics that Samsung would manufacture -- including wireless devices, Web terminals and e-mail printers.

"We're looking forward to collaborating with AOL Time Warner, the world's best online and offline media company, to provide consumers with total entertainment and communications solutions, as well as new digital experiences that will lead the digital convergence era," said Samsung executive vice president Eric Kim.