AOL Formalizes ‘Anywhere’ Strategy

America Online Inc. Wednesday unleashed its AOL 6.0 software at Internet
World Fall 2000. The company also launched its AOL by Phone service — which
gives anyone with a telephone the ability to tap AOL core functions like
e-mail — and the AOL Anywhere Web site.

Jonathan Sacks, senior vice president and general manager of the AOL
service, indicated the launch will be accompanied by a media blitz that aims
to capture consumer attention with 6.0’s ease of use, new features and AOL
Anywhere capabilities.

“This is the best AOL ever,” Sacks said, echoing the company’s new
television advertisements. “Every time we iterate our product, we’re out to
make it easier…It still looks like America Online and yet this is the
biggest rewrite of code in our history.”

Sacks said the new version was based on extensive member feedback. It
features a redesigned look and feel that highlights the service’s most
popular features. It also is the first AOL software to feature full
broadband support. The company extended that support further at Wednesday’s
launch with the announcement that it is rolling out AOL Plus powered by
DirectPC, integrating AOL Plus with the satellite-based broadband network.

Other new features of AOL 6.0 include:

  • E-mail enhanced with HTML support to allow graphics-rich e-mail and the
    ability to sort mail by date, sender and subject

  • [email protected], a feature that subscribers can use to establish online sites
    that can only be visited by the people they invite

  • Instant messaging updates with “drag and drop” organization of Buddy
    Lists, new Buddy Icons and emoticons

  • An integrated multimedia player that supports all major formats
  • The AOL Shopping Assistant, which appears onscreen alongside
    participating e-commerce sites and provides instant price comparisons and
    customer satisfaction reviews

  • An expanded “My Places” section with more options for personalizing the
    AOL Welcome Screen

  • New printing resources allowing members to print jobs directly to
    participating commercial printing companies

  • New content channels.

AOL 6.0 is the first AOL Anywhere client. The software saves subscribers’
address books and calendars to AOL’s servers rather than to their hard
disks. While some have said that this raises privacy concerns, AOL said this
enables users to access these features from multiple locations and multiple
devices.

The AOL Anywhere Web site is a further step in this direction. The site is a
one-stop, fully customizable home page that allows AOL members to access
features, news and information throughout the day. It allows members access
to their e-mail, stock portfolio, calendar, and Buddy List. Users also get
their own personalized “My AOL” online page and can customize the type of
information they can receive by using AOL by Phone, an Internet-ready
wireless phone, a handheld organizer or other mobile devices.

To top it off, AOL by Phone gives users access to e-mail, stock quotes,
weather information and news — all by telephone. Any telephone can be used
to access the features, even rotary phones. AOL by Phone is a voice portal
built on technology from Quack, a company AOL acquired in August. The voice
recognition technology was developed by SpeechWorks International.

“AOL Anywhere is more than a vision, it’s a reality,” Sacks said. “In the
future, we’re not going to think, “We’re on America Online,” we’re always
going to be there.”

AOL’s aggressive marketing campaign for the new software will include a
multi-million dollar television campaign focused on the new software’s added
convenience and ease-of-use, as well as AOL’s core bread-and-butter privacy,
safety and security offerings.

The software disks will be distributed in national and regional retail
chains, including supermarkets and department stores. Some of the
distribution partners

include Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, Gateway, Office
Depot, Sears and Target.

Also, the company will relase a guidebook, Wired in a Week written by
AOL Consumer Advisor Regina Lewis and published by Warner Books. The
publication, which will appear in a book form factor in bookstores and a
megazine form factor in grocery stores, is for Internet “newbies” and aims
to get them conversant with the Internet in just seven days.

“AOL 6.0 sets the new standard for online convenience, ease-of-use and
value, and takes our flagship service into the next generation of the
Internet’s development,” said Bob Pittman, president and chief operating
officer of AOL. “Since the launch of AOL 5.0, our member satisfaction rates
have soared to all-time highs. With this launch of AOL 6.0, we look forward
to making the online experience an even more central part of our members’
daily lives.”

News Around the Web