AOL Time Warner is the world’s leader in Internet technologies, e-commerce services, interactive services, and web brands. AOL started up in 1985 and initially offered limited online services for then a relatively small market of personal computer users. Today, it serves more than 27 million members of its flagship AOL service, along with more than 2. 8 million CompuServe members, 80 million registered users of ICQ, and more than 34 million registered users of the Netscape. com service.
AOL also operates some of the most popular services on the World Wide Web, including Map Quest, AOL Instant Messenger, AOL MovieFone, Spinner. m and Null Soft’s Winamp, and Digital City, Inc. With its major focus on providing convenient easy-to-use services for mass-market consumers, AOL has played a major role in creating the consumer online experience worldwide, and is leading the development of the next generation Internet. With this focus on consumers, AOL seeks to build a global standard as central to people’s lives as the telephone or television and perhaps even more valuable. Through its strategic alliance with Sun Microsystems, the company develops and offers easy-to-deploy, end-to-end e-commerce and enterprise solutions for companies operating in the net economy.
AOL has always been known for providing the most convenient and easiest-to-use interactive service available. The Company pioneered technologies like Keywords for simple navigation, and the Buddy List to enable instant messaging by showing, which of member’s contacts are online. The flagship service offers members a complete package of online features, including the popular My Calendar to organize busy schedules, You’ve Got Pictures to view and share family photographs online, a built-in multimedia player to enjoy the Web’s growing trove of rich audio and video content; and much more.
The service can be accessed using any high-speed connection, or by dial-up connections from virtually anywhere in the world. AOL has also leaded the way in protecting members’ online privacy and security. The service’s built-in Parental Controls offers the best available tools for parents to protect their children from inappropriate online content, choose whom they may or may not receive e-mail from, and even limit the amount of time they spend online. Our cutting-edge privacy protections give online shoppers the highest degree of protection for their credit card and other personal information.
AOL is also the only global interactive services provider, offering AOL services in 16 countries in 8 languages. At the same time, AOL offers the leading local services on the World Wide Web. The Company’s Digital Cities, Map Quest, and MovieFone brands that help consumers keep convenient track of what’s happening in their own hometowns. The Internet industry encompasses all companies engaged in creating, developing or processing electronic information through a computer network system.
Many of these companies are a direct outgrowth of the computer software industry. Though the Internet is not new, growth of this industry has taken off in the past four years due to the commercialization of the World Wide Web part of the Internet. The World Wide Web allows publishers to create electronic publications with text graphics, pictures, data, and in some cases, voice over the Internet. Users with a special program called a browser allow them to access these highly specialized publications through their personal computer.
Since the Internet involves no real barriers to creating publications, virtually anybody can create information and distribute it over a computer server. Internet commerce is expected to reach more than $400 billion in sales by the year 2002, according to IDC. Consumers will use this new commerce medium because it offers some comparison-shopping and convenience. Consumers can compare prices from different retailers almost instantaneously with a personal computer hooked into the Internet.
However, traditional shopping will not go away. Consumers will still do window shopping for higher unit value goods and considered purchases that are expensive and risky. But, straight repurchase and low unit value goods such as CD’s, books, and certain clothing items, electronic commerce offers the greatest timesavings. In 1998, there were 10 million consumers who purchased goods on-line. By the year 2002, this figure is expected to quadruple to 47 million consumers.