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AOL taps technology strategist

America Online names John McKinley, former CTO at Merrill Lynch, to the post of chief technology officer as it heats up its efforts in broadband, wireless and other areas.

America Online on Thursday named a new chief technology officer as it heats up its efforts in broadband, wireless and other areas.

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The company tapped John McKinley, a former CTO of Merrill Lynch and GE Capital, to direct its technology initiatives. As AOL's chief technology strategist, he will also oversee the teams in charge of product engineering, network infrastructure and data centers, and internal business systems and computing.

Over the past two years, the online division of media giant AOL Time Warner has lost the swagger it once had in the Internet industry. The company has seen its grip on the dial-up Internet access market slip as people have turned to discount rivals and broadband providers. On Wednesday, the company said that it lost about 846,000 narrowband subscribers in the quarter that just ended and that revenue would decline in 2003.

Hoping to stop the defections, the company plans to release a new version of its software--AOL 9.0 Optimized--that focuses on enhancing AOL's multimedia content, improving e-mail services, and offering other services to attract broadband users.

McKinley was also named president of AOL Technologies. He will report to AOL Vice Chairman Joe Ripp.

"John has helped some of the largest companies in the world implement ambitious technological efforts while maintaining strong fiscal discipline," Ripp said in a statement.