America Online is stepping up the battle in the online services industry and taking particular aim at Microsoft Corp.
The leading commercial online service announced a series of alliances with major CD-ROM publishers to provide one-button access to AOL from CD-ROMs. The strategy is similar to Microsoft's plans to offer one-button access to its own online service, the Microsoft Network, through its upcoming Windows 95 software. Publishers partnering with AOL include Broderbund Software, Hachette-Filipacchi Magazines, Compton's NewMedia, Virgin Interactive/Entertainment and Novell. AOL also said it has agreed to acquire multimedia publishers Medior Inc., San Mateo, Calif., and WAIS Inc., San Francisco, to beef up its Internet and World Wide Web services. Medior will be acquired for 825,000 shares in stock; WAIS will be acquired for approximately 400,000 shares. Separately, AOL President-CEO Steve Case put out a statement applauding Microsoft's decision to withdraw its planned acquisition of financial software marketer Intuit as "a victory for consumers." He also called on the Justice Department to "block Microsoft from using Windows as a marketing platform for Microsoft's own products and services, such as the Microsoft Network."
Hachette Filipacchi Magazines and Ron Perelman's New World Communications have teamed up to buy Premiere from K-III Communications. In the joint venture, Premiere Publishing Co., Hachette will publish the print version and New World will use the name and editorial content to develop TV programming. Susan Lyne, editorial/publication director, and Publisher Mark Furlong will continue in their posts. In October, the magazine will be restored to its oversize format. Hachette said it plans to publish 10 to 15 editions worldwide. The deal is expected to be finalized in early June. Terms were not disclosed, but the purchase price for the marginally profitable title was believed to be close to $20 million.
Several new marketers and publishers have signed on to use the I/COUNT Web site tracking service from Internet Profiles Corp., San Francisco. I/COUNT lets Web site owners monitor total number of users and the time spent in each area. Chrysler Corp., Individual Inc., Playboy Enterprises, Electronic Newsstand, Xerox Corp. and Ziff-Davis Publishing will use the service, joining beta testers Poppe Tyson, CMP Publications, MecklerWeb, Sun Microsystems and Time Inc.'s Pathfinder.