AOL, RocketBoard Forge Marketing, Equity Partnership

America Online on Tuesday reached
agreement with,
the maker of a modified keyboard that features a special row of 18 buttons,
to assign three of those buttons to AOL destinations.

As part of the deal, AOL is taking a minority stake in the startup. The
two companies have also agreed to create a co-branded version of the
keyboard. The boards will be distributed for free through RocketBoard’s Web

Financial terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

The deal calls for RocketBoard to assign the primary position on three
so-called RocketKeys to AOL, AOL Instant messenger, and Email. When users
press these keys, they’ll be directly taken to the AOL service. Non-AOL
members will get an opportunity to register for AOL. AOL will be the only
ISP to appear on the RocketBoard product.

The alliance is a coup for RocketBoard, in that this is its first deal with
a major company. The agreement, and AOL’s decision to take a piece of the
company, lends it instant credibility as it negotiates with other companies
and licenses them buttons on the keyboard.

The deal includes a cross-promotion element. RocketBoard will promote AOL,
on its packaging and Web page, and will include AOL software with each
keyboard sent out.

The RocketKey categories include entertainment, travel, shopping, sports,
e-mail, and health & beauty. The company expects to start shipping the
keyboards in April.

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