Online veterans CompuServe and CIX (Compulink Information eXchange) are getting ready for business as Microsoft prepares to launch a new version of its MSN service. While Microsoft attempts to rein in a new generation of users, its rivals will reinforce their positioning as mature European business services.
CompuServe announced last Friday that it is to speed up marketing and product development in Europe, as part of its Back to Basics policy to focus on core competencies. The service is claimed to have almost doubled its number of subscribers to over 850,000 in Europe over the last 12 months, with strong growth in business-to-business services cited as a key reason. The firm said it plans to increase local content and market share in 1997.
Separately, CompuServe said its CompuServe Network Services division that offers managed data communications and intranet solutions grew over 30 per cent for 1996.
Ten-year-old UK conferencing service CIX plans rapid growth in 1997 through a new range of business account options announced in November that include Internet and direct dial conferencing, and value-added e-mail services. CIX also launched a new logo last week to back up its image as a business service.
"The Internet is coming of age," said CIX managing director Roland Perry. "Paying users now expect it to earn its keep and make a real contribution to their business. Increasingly, other service providers will find that their basic access options are no longer adequate for serious users."
Disks giving UK users access to the new-look Web-based MSN with TV-style "channel" options and a multimedia preview go out this Wednesday. Microsoft has made no secret of its desire to be at least number two behind AOL in the US during 1997, but a UK spokesman was more circumspect: "We're hoping it will substantially grow an already fast expanding business," said Neil Laver, Microsoft product manager for MSN.
CIX can be contacted by telephone on 0181-255 5000
CompuServe can be contacted by telephone on 0118-952 5555
Microsoft can be contacted by telephone on 01734-270001