AT&T will phase out Interchange over the next year and move it entirely to the World Wide Web. First to go: the new Business Network, which will move by midyear.
The move to the Web is stunning for AT&T, but not surprising. The company paid Ziff Communications Co. more than $50 million for Interchange in December 1994 but attracted only a few blue-chip content providers like the Washington Post Co. and Minneapolis Star Tribune.
LACK OF MARKETING?
"It's really all about the failure of Interchange," said Adam Schoenfeld, analyst with Jupiter Communications, New York. "They never marketed it" enough. It probably didn't grow past the estimated 30,000 subscribers it signed at launch, he said.
In going to the Web, AT&T now faces the same problem other Web-based online services have confronted: convincing content providers to stay on board.
"There will be some short-cutting...but we'll be aggregating content from multiple sources," said Rob Lippincott, VP-executive producer, AT&T New Media Services.
Current content providers on the business service include CNN Interactive, Dow Jones Business Information Services and Dun & Bradstreet Information Services.
Signing CNN was a coup for AT&T, but the cable network hasn't decided if it will stay.
"We haven't fully explored all of the ramifications of the change from a proprietary to a new platform," said Harry Motro, VP-interactive and new-business development.