Putting NetZero’s Face On Compaq Computers

Hoping to snare new subscribers, NetZero, Inc., signed a deal Monday that puts its free and premium services on the face of upcoming Compaq Computer Corp. PCs.

It’s the second such deal for the third-largest Internet service provider in the nation, after a signed agreement Thursday with PC giant IBM.

NetZero officials declined to comment on the pricetag or the length of the deal with Compaq, but expect to reap a huge windfall.

Affinity programs put pre-installed Internet access software on the home computer of companies who purchase PCs for their employees, and are considered a key marketing opportunity for ISPs, as new computer buyers are more than likely novice Internet users.

Instead of trying to wade through and find the best ISP via the plethora of radio, TV and billboard advertisements, customers are more inclined to trust the judgment of the company they work for and just gave between $500 – $3,000 for a new PC.

With more than 4.4 million monthly users, NetZero is anxious to sign on paying customers to its ostensibly free service. It’s free service, while popular with the masses, proved to be an anchor to its operations when advertising revenues dried up last year.

Forced to find solutions, the free ISP put a cap on its monthly use policy and announced the start of its $9.95 monthly premium service, dubbed NetZero Platinum.

Mark Goldston, NetZero chairman and chief executive officer, said the deal with Compaq Monday is an affirmation that while the company finances may be down, NetZero is still one of the best ISPs in the country for customers to go for Internet connectivity.

“NetZero is honored to have been selected by Compaq to provide Internet access for their affinity programs,” Goldston said. “Our relationship with Compaq speaks volumes
about the quality and reputation of NetZero’s Internet access, and we’re thrilled for the opportunity to team up with one of the leaders in technology today.”

The free ISP isn’t the only provider in Compaq’s affinity program. It’s rival in the free Internet arena, Juno Online Services, Inc., has been a partner for years and Covad Communications last week signed a deal with Compaq to be an affinity partner offering digital subscriber line services.

Compaq, with $42 billion in sales in 2000, is sold in 200 countries throughout the world, and has partnerships (which NetZero hopes to tap into) with industry giants like Microsoft Corp., Siebel, Cisco and Xerox.

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