AOL to Launch Low-Priced Netscape ISP - 30 Dec 2003

AOL is resuscitating the Netscape name, but fans of the one-time Web browser king will be hugely disappointed to discover why. Rather than using this Netscape incarnation to make a serious run at unseating Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), AOL is targeting another rival service from Microsoft--MSN. The company will soon launch a budget ISP that will be priced at just $10 a month. AOL will offer the Netscape Internet service nationwide in the United States. The service is available now for beta testing for just $1 a month until March.

Marketed under the slogan "Netscape--Just the Net You Need," the new service features unlimited Internet access, personalized email addresses that can be accessed from any Internet connection, nationwide access, top-rated searching enhanced by Google, and a 2-minute download to get started. The $10 monthly charge is less than half of what AOL charges for its flagship AOL Internet service, but it will include far fewer of the friendly features that typical AOL customers expect.

Clearly, AOL is feeling the heat. For the first time, the service lost subscribers earlier this year, and its chief competition, Microsoft's MSN service, is finally starting to gain some ground. Both AOL and MSN recently unveiled high-end services (AOL 9.0 Optimized and MSN 9 Premium) that cater to broadband users, but only AOL, apparently, is targeting the budget end of the market.

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