AOL Europe, which has lost its lead position in the UK to Dixon’s Freeserve, is fighting back with a long awaited free service model of its own that will go live mid August.
AOL Europe, a joint venture between America Online and Germany’s Bertlesmann, said the service - dubbed Netscape Online - will complement its flagship subscription based AOL and Compuserve brands in the UK.
AOL said that Netscape Online will cater for the “value” end of the market which accounts for price conscious consumers who are likely to be male, young and single, as opposed to AOL’s mainstream family market and Compuserve’s brand for the professional sector.
AOL claims Netscape online will provide unmatched community, content and features in the emerging free Internet access market and will include the Netscape Navigator browser and AOL Instant Messenger 2.0.
“These brands collectively will have the critical mass necessary to generate substantial advertising and commerce revenue,” commented Andreas Schmidt, AOL’s president for Europe.
"Only AOL Europe, through its shareholders America Online and Bertelsmann, has the global scale, resources, expertise and experience to execute such a multiple brand strategy in the UK and to offer British consumers an entire range of tailored Internet online services,” added Schmidt.
AOL’s move comes on the back of Freeserve’s decision to sell off one fifth of its shares this month to build up revenue for expansion.
AOL has confirmed it will roll out next generation services - AOL 5.0 and Compuserve 2000 - later this year, possibly as early as September.
AOL 5.0 will offer a number of enhanced features including AOL Radio, IE5.0, “signature” files in email and an undelete folder in email. AOL 5.0 will also include integrated support for ISDN 5.0.
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