America Online and Gateway break new ground

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America Online and Gateway have unveiled a family of specialised Internet appliances featuring ‘Instant AOL’ that will deliver AOL's content, features and services to every room of the house.

Advancing the AOL Anywhere strategy, these new devices – the AOL Gateway countertop appliance, wireless web pad and desktop appliance – are small, lightweight tools for accessing the net in a variety of ways during the course of daily life.

It will offer features like e-mail and news as well as personalised services for busy households including recipes, coupons and grocery lists.

Through the appliances' touchscreens, wireless keyboards or traditional keyboards, members will be able to get online quickly with a touch of a button, and perform online tasks much as they would on a PC. Nearly all of AOL's features, including AOL Instant Messenger and chat, will be available on these devices.

Jeffrey Weitzen, Gateway’s president and chief executive officer, said: “For many consumers, the net is becoming an essential part of their lives, carrying the same importance as the telephone, radio, newspaper, magazine, and TV. Since last fall, Gateway and America Online have been working to bring easy-to-use, convenient and reliable products to mass market consumers. The AOL Gateway appliances have the ability to change the way consumers live, learn, work and play by expanding the range of the net to every room of the house.”

Bob Pittman, America Online's president and chief operating officer, said: “Our research shows that AOL members place high value on their ability to access Internet content and communications tools on new devices in addition to the PC. These easy-to-use appliances are an excellent way of providing the whole family convenient access to AOL's many popular features, content offerings and services from anywhere in the home. We are excited that these appliances will enable consumers to do everything from checking news headlines to ordering groceries or even updating the family calendar from virtually anywhere with just a touch of a button.”

Pittman continued: “This is a major step in our AOL Anywhere strategy, extending the benefits of AOL to emerging interactive platforms to help members stay easily connected wherever they are. As consumers continue to add devices to their PC experience and make the Internet a more constant companion in their lives, these appliances will give consumers an 'instant on' portable version of AOL's features, content and services that will truly help make their everyday lives more convenient.”

The AOL Gateway family includes:

*The AOL Gateway countertop appliance: This appliance will provide access to a customised version of the AOL service over a device that is small and light enough to be placed in highly trafficked areas of the house such as the kitchen or family room. With a flat-panel LCD touchscreen display, the appliance can be mounted on any flat surface to offer the whole family quick and easy ‘touch’ capability in any room of the house. Users will also be able to use an attached pointing device or accompanying wireless keyboard to access a full range of AOL services and Internet offerings. The AOL Gateway countertop appliance is expected by the end of this year.

*The AOL Gateway wireless web pad: The pad offers a wireless connection to a compact base station, enabling the consumer to use the appliance anywhere within the home. Users will be able to access the web's content and features by simply touching the screen or by using the accompanying wireless keyboard. Weighing less than three pounds, the pad's portability will make it perfect for remote use within the home. Distribution is expected by early 2001.

*The AOL Gateway desktop appliance: The desktop appliance is a lower-cost alternative to the traditional PC. Larger than the AOL Gateway wireless web pad and the AOL Gateway countertop appliance, will provide consumers a reliable connection and fast access to the features and content of AOL and the Internet. Its keyboard, mouse and traditional computer screen will offer familiar ways to gain access to news, e-mail and web content. It is expected to go on sale by the end of the year.

Gecko, Netscape's smaller, faster and more potent browser engine technology, is a key component of the AOL Anywhere strategy and is designed to power net devices across a range of platforms and enable web developers to create more compelling Internet-based content and applications. All of these devices will utilise the LINUX operating system.

Founded in 1985, America Online, Inc., based in Dulles, Virginia, is a leader in interactive services, web brands, net technologies, and e-commerce services. It operates: two worldwide net services, America Online, with more than 22 million members, and CompuServe, with more than 2.5 million members; several leading net brands including ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger and Digital City, Inc.; the Netscape Netcenter and AOL.COM portals; the Netscape Navigator and Communicator browsers; AOL MovieFone, the movie listing guide and ticketing service; and Spinner.com and NullSoft's Winamp, for music.

Gateway focuses on building lifelong relationships with consumers and businesses through complete technology personalization. It provide clients worldwide with services and built-to-order computers that consistently win top awards from leading industry publications.

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