By Abha Garg, Gartner Analyst
AOL Mobile Communicator is yet another mobile device in an
already crowded market. However, America Online's huge subscriber base will
give it a potential market.
This consumer-oriented initiative represents another revenue stream for AOL,
which has wisely timed its offer near the holiday season to target holiday
One factor that could potentially limit sales, though, is cost--the upfront
cost of the device itself is $329.95 and then the recurring service
subscription fee of $19.95 per month. Since AOL has aimed this device and
service at its own members, customers will be asked to pay the mobile device
subscription on top of the AOL Internet access subscription. Therefore,
costs can start adding up.
This initiative fits in with the AOL Anywhere strategy and the online giant's plan
to dominate the wireless access market. Other dominant portals and access
providers are trying to do the same. For example, Yahoo signed a bundling
agreement with Palm Computing in March.
A version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer will come with its smart phones
and handheld devices, such as the PocketPC and the Windows CE devices, which
compete with Palm- or Symbian-based devices. Whatever its other advantages,
however, Microsoft does not have nearly as large a subscriber base to sell
into as AOL has.
(For related commentary on another wireless device, the BlackBerry 950, see
TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)
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