In April America Online [NYSE: AOL], the world's leading interactive services
company, and Gateway [NYSE: GTW], the country's leading seller of consumer
PCs by revenue, unveiled a groundbreaking family of specialized Internet
appliances featuring "Instant AOL" that will deliver AOL's content, features,
and services to consumers in every room of their homes.
the AOL Anywhere strategy, these new devices - the AOL Gateway countertop
appliance, wireless Web pad and desktop appliance - are small, lightweight
tools for accessing the Internet in a variety of ways during the course
of a consumer's daily life.
appliances will automatically launch the "Instant AOL" service, a customized
version of AOL's convenient and easy-to-use software. It also will offer
popular AOL content and features like e-mail and news as well as personalized
services for busy households including AOL's My Calendar, recipes, coupons,
and grocery lists. Nearly all of AOL's features, including the most popular
AOL services like AOL Instant Messenger and chat, will be available on
The AOL Gateway family of specialized Internet appliances includes the
AOL Gateway desktop appliance. The desktop appliance, a simplified Internet
device for busy families and other consumers seeking additional ways to
access the Web, will serve as a lower-cost alternative to the traditional
PC. This easy-to-use appliance will provide consumers a reliable connection
and fast access to the features and content of AOL and the Internet. Its
convenient keyboard, mouse, and traditional computer screen will offer
users familiar ways to gain access to news, e-mail and additional Web
content. The desktop appliance is expected to go on sale by year's end.
next-generation appliances will utilize the Netscape Gecko browser technology.
Gecko, Netscape's smaller, faster and more potent browser engine technology,
is a key component of the AOL Anywhere strategy and is designed to power
Internet devices across a range of platforms and enable Web developers
to create more compelling Internet-based content and applications. All
of these devices will utilize the LINUX operating system.
Steve Case, chairman of AOL Time Warner, must feel his hackles rise each
time he sees another AOL 5.0 CD go out the door with Microsoft Internet
Explorer as the embedded browser. Thanks to an agreement that predated
AOL's buyout of Netscape, the Microsoft browser gets preferential treatment.
AOL's Gateway alliance will help get more Netscape 6 browsers out there,
in the "marketplace".
CompuServe division already had a similar arrangement with upcoming PC
vendor eMachines, Inc. [NASDAQ:EEEE]. Under the eMachines deal, new eMachines
PC's ship with preferred access to AOL & CompuServe via the CompuServe
2000 ISP service. But AOL hasn't even mentioned eMachines in its press
releases since November 1999. Well, all's fair in love, war, and "strategic
yet to see a major consumer, front line device that uses Linux enjoy wide
success. Despite great strides, Linux still needs major improvements in
interface and application support to win favor as a desktop OS. AOL's
original success came from simplifying online access for American consumers.
Their work on the Linux "experience" will be an instructive example to
other Linux desktop contenders.
You won't be buying these for your business desktop any time soon. But
these appliances will start to show up, gift-wrapped, during the 2000
holidays. Add another voice to the Peloponnesian chorus of users clamoring
for remote Web access to corporate e-mail and applications.