Jesse Berst: Part 2

On Page 1, you saw how AOL laid its plans -- then waited for consumers to catch up.

They have. Analysts report computer users are less interested in word-processing or spreadsheet applications and more interested in easy access to the Net. If you want to know what AOL thinks you want next, just look at its other moves. For instance, its plans to team with 3Com to offer email over handheld PalmPilots. Think: Porta-potty. Or its digital TV efforts. Think: Prime-time potty.

It would be foolish to count out Microsoft entirely, of course. Having failed to win by giving people what they want, the software giant resorts to the time-honoured tactic... of buying its way in. By investing in cable companies such as Comcast and AT&T's cable division, it hopes to garner most-favoured nation status for its online projects in the new high-bandwidth world. And to lock out AOL and other rivals.

Do you think AOL's latest deal is a slam dunk for consumers? Would you buy one for a non-techie relative?

Tell the Mailroom

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