Free entry shakes up Web firms

Free entry shakes up Web firms
Frank Ogden at CeBIT Internet service providers such as AOL and CompuServe are being forced to change their business models due to the threat from free service delivery companies. Faced with revenue attrition, the service providers are planning valued added Internet services run on the same lines as the mobile phone market by offering pay customers combined telephone/ Internet terminals and other facilities. The French communications firm Alcatel, pioneer of the now ageing Minitel service, is in talks with AOL over its WebTouch terminal, first shown in concept at CeBIT last year. AOL will include the Alcatel terminal as part of a premium Internet subscription package. The now fully working WebTouch terminal comprises a telephone, modem, 7.5in. colour touch screen and a full QWERTY key board which slides out from under the base. The operating system software, written entirely in Java, integrates a browser, e-mail, address book and user-defined functions such as home banking. Screen navigation is done by touch. A spokesman for Alcatel told Electronics Weekly that European deliveries would begin in September costing around $500. Samsung is also targeting the Internet terminal market. Its AnyWeb terminal includes a video camera built into the top of the screen and a smartcard reader at the bottom. Interestingly, the designers opted for Java to build the operating system. Samsung sees integrated terminals in payphone applications allowing shoppers to make financial and shopping transactions from placing such as public buildings. The company spokesman also expected demand from value added internet subscriptions businesses. AOL, exhibiting at CeBIT, declined to comment.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*