Dulles, VA - AOL announced the roll out of their new AOLTV service. The
service allows customers to access instant messaging, chat and e-mail
services from their TV. AOLTV also incorporates the new LifeMinders
technology which was acquired by AOL in its purchase of Netscape.
Steve Case said, "We're targeting AOLTV for the internet user
who is a little less web savvy then the current AOL user, so LifeMinders
technology is a must have feature." LifeMinders will use
the familiar "You've got mail," voice for announcements
such as "Don't forget to eat," "Go to sleep
now," and "Did you remember to wipe?". These
reminders will repeat at random intervals. "If they can
figure it out, AOLTV subscribers can customize the interval, and
also configure which reminders they need," added Case. LifeMinders
technology also incorporates a sensor which will turn on the TV when
the user enters the room. No more having to figure out that
confusing remote control with all those buttons.
No shiny surfaces
or blinking lights are visible on the AOLTV set top box. "That
was a result of exhaustive testing in focus groups," said AOL
COO Bob Pittman. "We found that the shiny surfaces frightened
some users and the blinking lights caused dizziness and disorientation
in others. While we have included a keyboard with AOLTV we
think that may only be used by current AOL subscribers who are familiar
with such complicated technology."
Prospective user Sean Hinton said, "I'm glad AOL has finally
made using the internet simple enough for people like me. The
LifeMinders technology will really help me in my day to day life. I
hope future versions can tell me how to turn the lights on. I'm
getting tired of sitting in the dark."
Wall street is very cautious about the prospects for AOLTV. Fred
Williams of CIBC Oppenheimer said, "I'm not sure how AOLTV will
succeed where other interactive TV ventures have failed. Targeting
people who are less internet savvy than current AOL subscribers may
sound like a great strategy, but we have yet to see if those people
AOLTV is being rolled out in a few test markets and should be widely
available by the third quarter.
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