Easier to Use Layout, Enhanced Communication Features, New Shopping Assistant, and Other Dynamic Features Give AOL Members New Level of Convenience to Help Manage Daily Lives'AOL by Phone', AOL Anywhere Web Site, Built-In Media Player and Full Support for All Broadband Platforms Provide Consumers with Valuable AOL Services Anytime, Anyplace, at Any Speed
Major Marketing Campaign Features New TV Ads and AOL Guide -- Wired in a Week -- for New Online Consumers
DULLES, VA, October 25, 2000 - America Online, Inc., the world's leading interactive services company (NYSE: AOL), today announced the launch of its AOL 6.0 software to help AOL members better manage their daily lives by delivering new convenience and ease-of-use and extending AOL's valuable benefits through multiple "AOL Anywhere" initiatives and over all broadband platforms.
The Company today also launched two new services, "AOL by Phone" and the AOL Anywhere Web site. "AOL by Phone" is a revolutionary new service that will enable members to check their e-mail and use other popular AOL features conveniently using simple, spoken commands from any telephone. The AOL Anywhere Web site gives AOL members an easy way to keep the features, news and information they rely on most available throughout the day - whether they are accessing AOL from any computer, from a wireless phone or other mobile device, from AOLTV, or even calling on their telephone.
The AOL service has been enhanced based on extensive member feedback, with a new design that makes it easier to access the most popular features and content. Enhancements to the service's e-mail and instant messaging features, including an Address Book that can be accessed from multiple locations, improve communication with friends and family. Changes to "My Calendar" and a new "Groups@AOL" feature provide powerful tools for organizing members' daily lives. And the new AOL Shopping Assistant helps members make better-informed online purchases.
AOL 6.0 offers full support for all broadband connections, along with a built-in multimedia player allowing members to enjoy seamless, integrated access to music and video at the click of a button -- without having to download additional software.
This support is enhanced with the rollout today of AOL PLUS Powered by DirecPC(r), an offering that integrates AOL PLUS with DirecPC, the satellite-based broadband service from Hughes Network Systems.
The launch of AOL 6.0 will be the focal point of an aggressive marketing campaign, aimed at both gaining new members and introducing current members to the upgrade. Among the elements of this campaign will be:
** An unprecedented drive to distribute software disks in more than 50 national and regional retail chains, including supermarkets, department stores, and others, including such national leaders as Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, Gateway, Office Depot, Sears, and Target;
** A multi-million dollar television campaign focused on the new software's added convenience and ease-of-use as well as AOL's industry-leading privacy, safety and security protections; and
** The upcoming release of a special guidebook, Wired in a Week, for new Internet consumers written by AOL Consumer Advisor Regina Lewis and published by Warner Books.
Bob Pittman, President and Chief Operating Officer of AOL, said: "AOL 6.0 sets the new standard for online convenience, ease-of-use and value, and takes our flagship service into the next generation of the Internet's development. Since the launch of AOL 5.0, our member satisfaction rates have soared to all-time highs. With this worldwide launch of AOL 6.0, we look forward to making the online experience an even more central part of our members' daily lives."
Mr. Pittman added: "AOL 6.0 will allow us to create new and valuable opportunities for our advertising and commerce partners to make use of the Internet's unique capabilities to reach consumers more effectively than ever before. And we will introduce new mass market consumers to the most convenient, easy-to-use and valuable Internet service ever by mounting our most innovative and aggressive marketing campaign ever. We are confident that our strategic partnerships with leading retailers that include co-branded versions of the service, as well as our groundbreaking guidebook, will be key to bringing the next wave of consumers online."
Barry Schuler, President of AOL Interactive Services, said: "The introduction of groundbreaking features like the customizable AOL Anywhere Web site and revolutionary AOL by Phone service makes AOL 6.0 the centerpiece of our efforts to give AOL members the convenience they increasingly rely on anywhere they are, anytime they want, from multiple devices in addition to the PC. We are offering our members the opportunity to access the service from every possible broadband platform, including AOL PLUS Powered by DirecPC. AOL 6.0 will help our members make the most of the Internet's incredible convenience to manage their daily lives, whether they're accessing it from any PC, a wireless phone or other portable device, or even calling on the telephone."
Helping Members Manage Their Daily Lives
AOL 6.0 features a redesigned look-and-feel that highlights the most popular features and content on the AOL service. In addition, the upgrade delivers enhanced online convenience with a variety of new features and services to help consumers manage their daily lives in a variety of ways, including:
** Enhanced e-mail with HTML support that lets members share graphics-rich e-mail with both AOL members and other Internet users, as well as simplified handling of file attachments, and the ability for members to sort their mailboxes by date, sender, and subject. AOL 6.0 also offers an "autocomplete" function that fills in the full e-mail address for any of a member's contacts after the first few letters are entered.
** Improved Address Book and "My Calendar" features that can be accessed offline and from multiple locations including both home and work. AOL 6.0 also allows members to print out their Address Book in an easily readable format;
** "Groups@AOL", a new feature that members can use to establish online sites that can only be visited by the people they invite -- perfect for planning events, sharing family photos, and other activities;
** Instant messaging updates, including "drag and drop" organization of their Buddy List, new Buddy Icons and emoticons that add visual impact to instant messages, the ability to send automatic "Away" and "Do Not Disturb" replies;
** An integrated multimedia player that supports all major formats;
** The AOL "Shopping Assistant" that appears onscreen alongside participating e-commerce sites, providing instant price comparisons and customer satisfaction reviews;
** Expanded "My Places" section with more options available to personalize the AOL Welcome Screen;
** New printing resources giving members the ability to send print jobs directly to participating commercial printing companies; and
** New content channels focusing on areas that have generated substantial interest from AOL members, including Autos, House & Home, and Parenting.
Jonathan Sacks, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the AOL service, said: "Our top priority in designing AOL 6.0 was listening to members and delivering improvements they wanted to make the service a more valuable part of their lives. The new features, broadband support, and go-anywhere convenience of this next-generation software make good on that commitment to our members. AOL 6.0 will make it even easier and more convenient for our members to do what they most like online -- communicate with friends, family and business associates; manage their daily lives with features like My Calendar, Groups@AOL, and My Places; learn; explore; entertain themselves; and take advantage of online shopping opportunities."
Personalizable Web Site and Portable Features Take "AOL Anywhere" to New Level
AOL 6.0 advances the Company's "AOL Anywhere" strategy of delivering the AOL service's convenience to members anywhere and anytime, and from a variety of devices in addition to the PC.
AOL today launched its new AOL Anywhere Web Site, a one-stop, fully customizable home page that gives AOL members an easy way to keep the features, news and information they rely on most available throughout the day. The AOL Anywhere site allows members easy access to check their e-mail, stock portfolio, their Calendar and the day's events, view their Buddy List(R), and get their own personalized "My AOL" online page with news and information they rely on easily and conveniently. The site also enables members to customize the type of information they can receive by calling on the telephone or their Internet-ready wireless phone, using their handheld organizer and other mobile devices. It can be accessed by one click from the AOL 6.0 toolbar, or on the World Wide Web at www.aol.com.
AOL 6.0 also extends the "AOL Anywhere" initiative by making it possible to access the Address Book and "My Calendar" features from multiple locations, and to update them while offline.
The "AOL Anywhere" initiative is also enhanced with the launch of "AOL by Phone." Current and new members who register for this service can now access the online services they rely on most from any telephone, using simple voice commands. "AOL by Phone" will be offered at no cost on a trial basis through the end of this year, and will be a premium service offered to AOL members beginning in 2001.
Complete Support for All Broadband Platforms
AOL 6.0 enables members to take advantage of new high-speed Internet connections and the rich online content and features they enable by providing complete support for all broadband platforms. The software automatically detects the speed at which a member is connected and provides enriched content to members whose connections enable it.
Members connecting through a cable, DSL, satellite, or another high speed connection can automatically take advantage of "AOL PLUS," providing full-motion video and streaming audio through the built-in AOL Media Player, which supports all major multimedia formats. AOL PLUS delivers high-quality content from such partners as Fox, CBS, Weather.com, Internet Pictures Corporation, and others and is now also available via AOL PLUS Powered by DirecPC.
Developed in partnership with Hughes Network Systems, AOL PLUS Powered by DirecPC is currently rolling out in Circuit City, Office Depot, and independent satellite dealers nationwide to provide consumers with an enhanced interactive experience by offering them everything they need to connect to and use the AOL service and the Internet with incredible speed via their own DirecPC satellite system. The DirecPC satellite connection will provide consumers nationwide the ability to receive broadband content at speeds of up to 14 times faster than with a standard 28.8 modem.
In addition to the compelling AOL PLUS multimedia content offering, consumers who buy the DirecDuo(TM) antenna and one or more DIRECTV receivers with their DirecPC satellite modem will enjoy the added bonus of compatibility with DIRECTV(r), enabling them to receive up to 225 channels of digital programming in addition to their broadband Internet access for a complete information and entertainment package.
Aggressive Global Marketing Campaign
To support today's launch, AOL is beginning an aggressive marketing campaign around the world. In the US, a record number of retail outlets will join online download services in distributing copies of the AOL 6.0 software. Among the more than 50 regional and national retailers that will make copies of the free software available are major supermarket chains from coast to coast, as well as bookstores, office supply stores, and others.
In addition, AOL has made agreements to offer special co-branded AOL 6.0 disks with leading US retail chains as Circuit City, Target, and Sears that will be accompanied by special in-store promotions.
Along with these marketing efforts, AOL is reaching out to new consumers with the publication of Wired in a Week, an upcoming paperback from Warner Books aimed primarily at consumers who are not only new to AOL, but to computers and the online medium generally. The book - free to readers who sign up for AOL using the disk that comes enclosed with it - provides easy, step-by-step instructions on such basic tasks as sending and receiving e-mail, finding Web sites, and making online purchases.
Like the AOL 6.0 disks, Wired in a Week will be widely distributed. It will be available wherever books are sold, including supermarkets, pharmacies, bookstores, and online booksellers.
AOL services around the world will also be making the launch of AOL 6.0 the centerpiece of aggressive efforts to drive membership growth:
** AOL UK will preview their UK version of AOL 6.0 software online in the coming weeks for their members with AOL 6.0 CDs to follow in the coming months.;
** AOL Canada will also preview the Canadian version of AOL 6.0 software online starting today for their members. CDs of the new software will be available in the coming months and with the introduction of AOL 6.0; and
** America Online Brasil will be launching AOL 6.0 later this year, along with a version co-branded with Banco Itał;
** AOL services in Australia, France, Germany, and Japan will be launching the software in the coming months.
About America Online, Inc. Founded in 1985, America Online, Inc., based in Dulles, Virginia, is the world's leader in interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies and e-commerce services.
Minimum system requirements for AOL 6.0 are:
Members can visit Keyword: Upgrade to download the new AOL 6.0. Non-members can download AOL 6.0 at www.aol.com. # # # VNR
SATELLITE FEED: Feed Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2000 Feed Times: 6:00 - 6:15 AM EST, 10:00 - 10:30 AM EST, and 1:00 - 1:30 PM EST, Coordinates: C_BAND: TELSTAR 5/TRANSPONDER 23
America Online, Inc. will host a press briefing on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 at Fall Internet World 2000 beginning at 10:15 AM in Room 1A02 at the Jacob Javits Center For AOL 6.0, AOL by Phone or AOL Anywhere artwork, please call 703/265-1746