Convenience will be the key to the Internet becoming a mass communications medium, according to America Online's president Robert Pittman.
Speaking to VNU Newswire at AOL's head office in Dulles, Virginia, Pittman said that the idea that convenience is king also applies to the Internet.
"Products like microwaves and video recorders don't do anything new, it is the way they are packaged and the Internet is the same. This is the first time that anything has taken away time from the most important box in the home, the TV," he added.
"The Internet is eating into TV time first and secondly our meal and sleep times - why? Because it is convenient."
Pittman said that half AOL use is currently for chat and email, which is what most of us spend the majority of our time doing - interacting with other humans.
"Of course it isn't like visiting someone, but watching Star Wars on video isn't the same experience as seeing it on the big screen either, but it is very convenient."
Pittman said that AOL is currently looking at a number of services that will provide its users with a greater convenience than they get outside cyberspace. The first will be a film developing service following a deal it has signed with Eastman Kodak.
AOL users will drop their film off with their screen name. The film developing bureau will email their photos back to them digitally where they can store them in online scrapbooks. Users will be able to order hard copies of the photos online as well as reprints that can be mailed out.
The service goes live later this year. "It isn't radically different, just very convenient," he said. Pittman said AOL will be looking at doing the same with other traditional services over the coming months.
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