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Sunday  June 25 1:49 PM EDT

AOLTV Targets Not So
Bright Internet Users

By Brian Briggs

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.

scr_dest.jpg (11656 bytes)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 actually exist."

AOLTV is being rolled out in a few test markets and should be widely available by the third quarter.

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