America Online, Inc., and AT&T Wireless
are developing a new wireless mobile service which will integrate familiar AOL desktop features and functionality into the wireless handset. The companies also unveiled enhanced AOL services on existing AT&T Wireless phones and an expanded marketing relationship in which AT&T Wireless products and services will be promoted on AOL Time Warner online and offline brands.
The companies expect the new service and a co-branded custom-designed handset to be available for purchase in the first half of next year. The service will be sold online and in AT&T Wireless retail stores, where it will be marketed along with the software for the AOL service.
Prior to the roll-out of the new service, AOL members and AT&T Wireless customers will have the option of selecting a special version of the AT&T Wireless Digital PocketNet phone that will have access to the existing AOL Mobile service, including for the first time, the mobile version of the AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) service.
The AOL/AT&T alliance furthers the relationship between AT&T Wireless and America Online that began last July when the companies announced that AOL Mobile service would become available on the AT&T Digital PocketNet phone.
AT&T Wireless will also substantially increase its marketing presence across AOL Time Warner online and offline brands. The multi-faceted marketing campaign is designed to run this year and next year. Beginning this month with the first of many special promotions, AOL and CompuServe members, as well as Netscape visitors, will have access to an online offer that will include a $50 credit on the purchase of specified mobile phones available from AT&T Wireless.
“We’ve set a plan for AOL members to enjoy a rich mobile service experience on our GSM/GPRS network soon. And AT&T Wireless customers can look forward to a new level of the AOL Mobile service. But more importantly, now AOL members join AT&T Wireless customers in being among the first to experience an exciting next generation of wireless capabilities as we lead the industry in deploying a world-standard next generation mobile multimedia network,” said John D. Zeglis, chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Wireless.
America Online and AT&T Wireless also each have separate strategic relationships with NTT DoCoMo. America Online and NTT DoCoMo announced a strategic alliance in September focused on the convergence of PC-based and mobile Internet services worldwide, and the growth of DoCoMo AOL Internet services in Japan.
NTT DoCoMo has a 16 percent economic interest in AT&T Wireless and together they have formed a strategic alliance to develop the next generation of mobile multimedia services on a global-standard, high-speed wireless network known as UMTS.
The Dulles, Va.-based AOL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AOL Time Warner