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AOL Pins Growth Hopes on 8.0

Boot Camp feature for Tuesday, October 15, 2002

The online service shootout. AOL and Microsoft go at it again. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. AOL is calling it the biggest launch it has had in years... .Version 8.0... .

"Fundamentally, what AOL 8.0 is built around is connecting you to the people and things you care most about. We've focused on our members, we've focused on making the service more relevant and we've focused on our great community."

AOL VP Jeff Kimball. AOL... with nearly 35 million members... .is about four times the size of Microsoft's rival MSN service... which will be rolling out its own version 8.0 later this month. Both are hoping to attract more subscribers to their high speed services. AOL needs that to jumpstart its slowing subscriber growth rate. But it is also hoping to make more money from its dial up customers... by far the majority... .by charging extra for things like a new Call Alert service...

"If you're on your phone line and somebody's trying to call you and you're on the Internet... for a 3.95 premium charge you can subscribe to Call Alert and then when you're online and you get a phone call you have a choice of sending it to voice mail ... and you get that voice mail right when you're online ... you don't have to interrupt your session. You can take a message, you can also send a response back to the caller."

Other new features include a spell checker and music sharing capability through instant messages, more customizable opening screens and parental controls. The new version could help AOL retain members... but the question is... .is there still much room left to grow? Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.