Former UK Internet champ AOL reckons its plans for "AOL Anywhere" -- that's personal computing and Internet access all over the globe -- will arrive in Britain only after our American cousins have experienced the technology. The reason: because American folks are technologically "more advanced".
On Wednesday AOL invested $10m (£6.1m) for a 4% stake in Radiant, a US based company that produces the touch screen computer technology currently used in many petrol stations, restaurants and shops. This falls in line with AOL's stated intentions to concentrate more on providing public access Internet computing.
John Heyman, Chief Financial Officer for Radiant believes Britain is well placed to pioneer this space-aged computing. "It would probably be easier to do it in Europe before America, because we already provide so much hardware here. We already have some prototypes in Europe such as a Shell 'site of the future' petrol station in Sweden.
But according to Heyman's new partner, the UK is lagging behind the US and its folk do not yet fit into AOL's plans. An AOL spokeswoman says, "You're not going to see email at petrol pumps in the UK for a while." She explains this is because users in the UK lack the necessary computer savvy to be able to handle the complications of using a computer in public. "In the UK we still have people with £1000 PCs who don't even have a modem. We have to look on getting them online before we can apply our AOL Anywhere strategy here."
Despite AOL's dim view of the British, Heyman says Radiant and AOL plan also to give the public the chance to view email messages, stock quotes and possibly the Internet itself, at high speeds using public terminals. He says, "Using our 'intelligent devices' running Windows CE or NT platforms, people will be able to just enter their credit card and quickly access a personalised AOL homepage."
Following the announcement of this deal shares in Radiant rose by $3.1875 to $19.375 on the Nasdaq.
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