AOL 5.0 Launches Worldwide.
New Software, Services and Features Make AOL Even More Valuable
and Central to Members' Everyday Lives
AOL 5.0 Includes You've Got Pictures, My Calendar,
New AOL Search, AOL-Plus, Shop @ AOL and New Personalization Tools
Millions of Free AOL 5.0 CDs Being
Distributed in More than 5,000 Retail Outlets Nationwide
America Online, Inc. (NYSE: AOL), the world's leading interactive services company, announced today the worldwide rollout of the next-generation AOL 5.0 software with new services and features to make the AOL service even more valuable and central to the everyday lives of mass market consumers.
With AOL 5.0 as its centerpiece, the AOL service will lead the next wave of the interactive medium's growth. AOL 5.0 and all of its features and services will deliver an unmatched online experience with -reater convenience, ease-of-use and personalization, and it will support high-speed connectivity for AOL members with broadband access. Designed for the PC, AOL 5.0 will also provide the bridge to bring interactivity to other consumer devices.
The Company expects AOL 5.0 will be a major driver for accelerating growth in membership, member retention, time spent on the service, and online shopping. Since it was previewed on the service just two weeks ago, AOL members have already downloaded two million copies of the software - exceeding the pace of early member downloads of AOL 4.0, the Company's previous version of its software released last year. Around the world, localized versions of AOL 5.0 will be rolling out in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK throughout the Fall. These versions will also be accessible by AOL members in Austria, Switzerland and Sweden.
AOL 5.0 Marketing and Advertising Campaign
Beginning today, AOL 5.0 CD-ROMs will be distributed by mail and retail outlets nationwide. And for the first time, AOL, Inc. will distribute millions of AOL 5.0 CD-ROMs through more than 5,000 retail outlets, including CompUSA, Circuit City, Office Depot, J&R Computer World, and Barnes & Noble.
This unprecedented retail distribution will be complemented by a new, multimillion-dollar broadcast ad campaign highlighting "new version 5.0" and featuring actual AOL members talking about their online experiences. AOL 5.0 is also available online and can be downloaded at Keyword: Upgrade or at www.aol.com.
Marquee AOL 5.0 Features
The new AOL 5.0 Welcome Screen hosts convenience features designed specifically for AOL's mainstream audience, including:
-- AOL Search (SM) is an all-new search product that enables members to easily search the entire Internet and all of AOL's exclusive content without leaving the AOL service. Designed to get users quickly to the information they want, AOL Search offers unparalleled convenience by integrating AOL's unique keyword navigation system and search directly in the AOL 5.0 toolbar. Each search delivers a comprehensive list of results from the AOL service and the Web, ranked by an exclusive AOL relevancy process drawing from the thousands of exclusive AOL areas, the more than 1 million sites in the Open Directory and the Web at large. AOL Search is already gaining favorable reviews from users and reviewers.
-- My Calendar (SM) is the new, easy-to-use, personalized calendar that allows members to plan and manage their lives by tracking appointments, birthdays, anniversaries and other key dates. For added convenience, the My Calendar feature is accessible and easily updated from any computer, so the member never has to sync up their calendar when using multiple computers. And soon, members will be able to receive alerts about such events as movie premieres, sport schedules, album releases and concerts of interest to them from a database of upcoming entertainment, cultural and other public events. Members then will have the opportunity to buy tickets and merchandise tied to those events through the AOL service.
-- You've Got Pictures (SM), developed in partnership with Eastman Kodak, is easily accessible on the new Welcome Screen. The You've Got Pictures feature is transforming the way people look at pictures and makes sharing photos with friends and family as easy as sending e-mail. Additionally, AOL members can order reprints, enlargements and photo gifts. In You've Got Pictures test markets, initial response has been overwhelmingly positive: 70% of AOL members who sign on, click on the Welcome Screen icon and 87% who have tried it are likely to recommend it to a friend.
-- Shop @ AOL is AOL's new shopping destination delivering unprecedented shopping convenience, as well as a series of state-of-the art customer services designed to deliver a more convenient, sophisticated and dynamic shopping experience. Forrester Research deemed Shop @ AOL the Internet's "Miracle Mile."
-- AOL-Plus (SM), which will become available later this year, will automatically detect whether a member is accessing the service with broadband connectivity and then display a "multimedia tower" delivering enriched AOL-branded content, services and features -- including enhanced video, audio and games, as well as compelling online catalogue shopping. AOL will soon introduce a version of AOL 5.0 tailored for DSL customers, maximizing the benefits of DSL broadband connectivity.
-- AOL E-Mail on Palm Pilots extends the "AOL Anywhere" initiative by enabling AOL members to read and send their AOL e-mail over 3Com's industry-leading handheld organizers.
A New Standard for the Next Level of AOL Member Experience
Steve Case, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of America Online, said: "AOL 5.0 will deliver an interactive experience that is more valuable and more central to our members' everyday lives than ever before. At the core of the new AOL experience is a consumer-centric approach that combines world-class technology and innovation with a tremendous amount of member input and research. As a result, we believe that AOL 5.0 delivers the easiest and most convenient interactive experience available anywhere and will help us build an even closer relationship with our members."
Case added: "We are confident that AOL 5.0 will lead the interactive medium's next wave of growth and create a bridge from the PC to other interactive devices as we move into a more connected society."
Bob Pittman, President and Chief Operating Officer of America Online, added: "Already, 18 million AOL members are averaging nearly an hour daily online - with more than 55 percent logging onto the service everyday -- and buying $850 million in goods and services online every five weeks. We expect AOL 5.0 will become the next major catalyst for membership growth, time spent online, member retention, and e-commerce. We think AOL 5.0 will be a great hit with mass-market consumers and are thrilled to offer unprecedented worldwide and in-store distribution."
Barry Schuler, President of AOL Interactive Services Group, concluded: "AOL 5.0 will take current and future members to the next level of the interactive experience no matter how they connect to AOL -- anywhere, anytime, and at any speed. We're always looking for new and different ways to make the things people do in their everyday lives easier and more convenient online."
Additional AOL 5.0 Personalization and Convenience Features
Among other AOL 5.0 features that deliver more personalization and enhanced convenience to AOL members are:
-- Seven Screen Names Per Account, providing added flexibility for everyone in the family to use screen names at home, school or in the workplace.
-- Longer Screen Names of up to 16 alphanumeric characters, up from 10.
-- New Channel Guide streamlines access to AOL's exclusive content and communities -- directly from the Welcome screen.
Jonathan Sacks, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the AOL service, said: "Early feedback on the 5.0 experience from members indicates that the innovative improvements and new services are certain to become the next-generation sticky applications. Whether it's keeping track of your life through My Calendar or sharing pictures online with friends and family, our members look to AOL to bring these new online experiences to them in the most convenient and easiest form possible. We believe 5.0 sets a new standard for the best experience in cyberspace."
AOL Member Suggestions Key to AOL 5.0 Development
The Company said that AOL member suggestions drove the development of such new AOL 5.0 features as:
-- Enabling members to transfer the information from their "Address Book" and "Favorite Places" to another computer;
-- Allowing members to retrieve recently deleted e-mail from the Mail Center for up to 24 hours;
-- Providing members the added convenience of a new "Locate" feature that allows them to easily locate and open downloaded files from e-mail; and
-- Permitting users to "sign" personal or business correspondence, using new virtual personal "signatures" tailored to how they use their screen name.
Faster, Easier Registration, Access and Customer Service
In addition, AOL 5.0 provides several enhancements to make registering for and accessing AOL faster and easier. It also includes new features designed to improve the member assistance experience and provide for more efficient customer service support, including: streamlined registration allowing for automatic "roll over" to a toll-free 800 number if the default local access number is unavailable; simpler sign-on and identification of "access numbers;" and easily identified computer system information to help expedite calls to AOL Technical Support.
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. America Online, Inc. operates: two worldwide Internet services, America Online, with more than 18 million members, and CompuServe, with more than 2 million members; several leading Internet brands including ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger and Digital City, Inc.; the Netscape Netcenter and AOL.COM portals; the Netscape Navigator and Communicator browsers; and AOL MovieFone, the nation's No. 1 movie listing guide and ticketing service.
Through its strategic alliance with Sun Microsystems, the Company develops and offers easy-to-deploy, end-to-end e-commerce and enterprise solutions for companies operating in the Net Economy.
System Requirements for AOL 5.0
The system requirements for AOL 5.0 are the same as those for AOL 4.0 to ensure that upgrading to the new software is as easy and convenient as possible. System requirements:
Windows 95 32-bit or Windows 98
-- 16 megabytes of RAM
-- Pentium-class PC
-- 38 Megabytes available hard disk space (Note: 90 megabytes may
be required if currently using MSIE 4.0 or below)
-- 640x480, 256 colors or better screen (optimized for 800x600)
-- 14.4 Kbps or faster modem
AOL 5.0 is currently available for download for members using Windows platforms at Keyword: Upgrade or at www.aol.com. AOL 5.0 CD-ROMs are also available at more than 5000 retail stores across the country including, CompUSA, Circuit City, Office Depot, J&R Computer World, and Barnes & Noble. Current members may request a 5.0 CD-ROM by calling: 1-800-4-ONLINE (1-800-466-5463).
The Macintosh version of AOL 5.0 will be available in the coming months.
Visit www.corp.aol.com for a live broadcast of the AOL 5.0 press conference beginning at 9:50 a.m. EST.
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|Date:||Oct 5, 1999|
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