Compuserve is expanding user access to its content pages but cutting back on its ISP business in the UK, under pressure from rivals such as BT.
In a bid to target professionals with high margin services, the ailing online service provider will allow people to access its information using third party Internet access providers for a reduced fee.
?By the end of the year we will make our content pages available to people who have other ISDN links into Internet,? said Martin Turner, general manager of Compuserve in the UK. ?Today the only way that you can get Compuserve content is by buying Internet connection through us.?
He emphasised that the firm will not withdraw its Internet provider service, as it still has 450,000 subscribers - 50 per cent of the market in the UK - while leading US ISPs MCN, AOC and Demon have 350,000 in total. The firm currently has five million subscribers worldwide.
Turner anticipates that the group's new strategy will increase its market share and give a further 45 million global Internet users access to its services. Its content will be available by the end of the year, but agreements with distributors may not be finalised until 1998.
?We want to provide the maximum number of channels that people can access. So we are keen to get major players and competitors to promote our content and you have to incentivise them to do so,? he said. ?We expect a significant increase in market share.?
The move comes after four quarters of losses, and a year after Compuserve?s parent company H&R Block floated 20 per cent of the company on the Nasdaq exchange and promised shareholders that it would put up the remaining 80 per cent.
Turner put the losses down to a change in the market and the firm?s heavy investment in non-targeted marketing in the US and pointed out that ?up until a year ago Compuserve made a profit for 20 years, we are the only people who have been making a significant amount of business in this market.?
He admitted that the firm was talking to a third party, but denied that it meant a merger with rival American Online.
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