Compaq Computer Corp. said today its new line of Internet-enabled Presario PCs will be bundled with a range of features including Net access provided by GTE Corp., and keyboard buttons that offer direct access to the services of leading portal players.
The move follows similar steps taken recently by Packard Bell-NEC and Gateway to package Internet access services with their personal computers, and is further evidence that major PC makers are beginning to leverage desktop real estate to generate revenue through partnerships with leading Internet players.
Under a four-year agreement signed with GTE division GTE Internetworking, the new Compaq machines will feature “Easy Internet Access Service powered by GTE.”
Prospective purchasers will get a $100 mail-in rebate on all new Presario PCs if they sign up for a trial period of 50 free hours with the Internet service. Service thereafter is $19.95 per month, or $16.95 per month if users are already customers of GTE’s long-distance phone service.
Compaq also announced today a multi-year agreement with America Online Inc. under which an AOL icon will be displayed on all Presario PC desktops.
When users sign up for the AOL service via pre-installed software, they will be able to access AOL instantly by hitting an Internet access key on the specialized keyboard. Users can choose to connect to the AOL service or to another portal start page.
Compaq said the new keyboards will feature four such Instant Internet buttons: an Instant E-mail button; an Instant Search button; a Daily Internet Button; and a Secure E-Commerce button that delivers users to shopping and commerce resources.
The PC manufacturer said it entered into partnerships with 20 different Internet companies to provide services for the Instant Internet button suite.
Under an agreement with Yahoo! Inc., for example, Presario PC users clicking on the Daily Internet button will be greeted by a customizable My Yahoo! start page that will offer news, weather, sports, entertainment, and finance information.
Another default portal involved in the deal is Compaq-owned Digital Equipment Corp.’s popular AltaVista search engine. The search service will be made available through the Instant Internet Access button on the new Presario keyboards.
Rounding out the packaged Internet offerings, the new models will also include a cable modem-ready, 10 Mbps Ethernet Port providing 10 Mbit Internet access, a feature that will enable multiple PC users to share Net connections, files, software, printers and other peripherals on a home network.
The new Presarios, which come with Windows 98 software either pre-installed or offered separately as a free upgrade, range in price from $799 to $3,299.
“With this announcement, Compaq is the first home computing company to place the Internet front and center, exactly where our consumers expect it to be,” said Rod Schrock, Vice President and General
Manager, Consumer Products Group. “Our new Presario Internet PCs allow consumers to easily enjoy the rich, vast world of information associated with a true ‘web lifestyle.'”