Online service provider Compuserve has copied its European strategy in America with the launch of C, an internet version of its proprietary online service, CSi.
It has taken selected elements of CSi, bundled POP3 email and Web forums, and offered the package to subscribers for a fee of less than $10 per month compared with the $25 per month charge for CSi.
This almost mirrors a similar service which it has already been offering in Europe.
European vice president Jerry Roest said: ?All that?s happening in Europe is a continuing improvement to the service which has been offered for some time, and now reaches completion. We?ve been migrating over the last two years, and in the US they?ve been waiting for a major switch. We show ourselves as more innovative.
Bob Kington, VP and executive producer of Compuserve International, said: ?We are launching the product softly, although several thousand customers have signed up since it launched on 30 December."
Members of CSi will have free access to C. Whether it will be considered a ?middle ground? service - falling between the sophistication of proprietary offerings and the many free services available on the Net - remains to be seen, and will partly depend on pricing.
Price points are still being evaluated and Kington said: ?We have carried out market research and are still considering the price. We are waiting for users to command to us what they need. We are likely to have new owners on 30 January and we expect them to have something to say about it.?
Rich D'Amato, a spokesperson for AOL - which acquires Compuserve's online information business this month - said: ?Those decisions have not yet been made.? He added: ?Our intention is to operate a two brand strategy.?
Roest agreed: ?After the merger with AOL, the AOL side will focus harder on the home consumer market and Compuserve will focus on businesses and professional users. There will be some degree of two-level strategy.?
The AOL deal comes as part of Worldcom's proposed takeover of Compuserve. It will sell the online service business to AOL in exchange for its network business, ANS. This is expected to be completed on 30 January. AOL was unwilling to comment on rumours about further acquisitions.
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