Taking an embrace-and-grow approach, CompuServe today launched SpryNet, an all-in-one direct Internet service.
Users can choose any one of three pricing tiers for SpryNet: $19.95 for unlimited access to the Net; $9.95 per month for seven hours with $1.95 for each additional hour; and $4.95 per month for three hours with $1.95 for each additional hour. SpryNet registered users will get a free Spry Mosaic Web browser, but any browser can be used. Officials said the company plans to include a 32-bit version of a browser, like the Microsoft Explorer, in the future because they believe the majority of users are still on Windows 3.1.
CompuServe, like the other proprietary online services, is facing a lot of pressure from the growing popularity of the Internet, and some analysts said the company had no choice but to offer direct Internet access. In particular, they pointed to the Microsoft Network, which has been forced to completely alter its strategy and fully embrace the Net.
CompuServe officials, however, said they believe this is just the natural convergence of two powerful forces. Bob Massey, CompuServe's president and CEO, said that the Net "augments the online model and in the long term [SpryNet] enhances the value of proprietary services." Currently, about 18 percent of all CompuServe traffic is geared toward the Internet, he said. Officials said SpryNet will adhere to the same policy as CompuServe as far as restricting newsgroup sites; however, there will be further clarification regarding this policy in general in the next couple of weeks.
You can register for SpryNet by calling 800/777-9638 or by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.