LOS ANGELES--America Online chief executive Steve Case says the second Internet revolution is coming, and--surprise--it coincides with AOL's business strategy.
In a keynote speech today at the Internet World conference here, Case said the differences among the Internet, televisions, telephones and stereo systems will soon blur.
"The future is much more than just bytes and bandwidth, Web sites or streaming videos," he said. "The separate are fusing into one. We can build bridges between devices...and make the first Internet revolution quaint by comparison."
As part of that strategy, Case today unveiled a new Netscape browser that works not only on computers but also on set-top TV boxes and wireless phones.
Although the Netscape 6 browser was the centerpiece of Case's announcement and AOL's presentation, it won't be central to AOL's strategy for some time. While AOL plans to deploy the browser and its underlying Gecko technology in its new Internet devices, it will still use Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser in its PC service.
The decision to continue using Internet Explorer stems from the
agreement AOL made with Microsoft that gives AOL representation on the Windows desktop, said Barry Schuler, AOL's president of interactive services. AOL would have to give up that placement if it switched its default browser to Netscape 6, he said.
"Having that visibility is important to us," Schuler said. "Someday if they change their mind, we would absolutely use Gecko technology (on the PC)."
Case also announced a partnership with Gateway to build new Internet appliances for the home. He showed off a wireless Web pad, a handheld device that will allow people to roam around the house and surf the Net.
Case said a future in which electronic devices can communicate and link together will change people's lives.
Televisions will allow people to bookmark their favorite TV shows, much like Web surfers already bookmark their favorite Web sites on a browser, he said. With cable Internet access, people can answer phone calls with a television and hold a video conference. Consumers also can download music from the Web and store it in new music devices connected to their stereos.
"We will make things a lot simpler and more convenient," he said.
The appliances will cost about $500, Schuler said, and will go on sale near the holiday season this year.
Case also touched on AOL and Time Warner's plans to open their high-speed cable lines to outside Internet service providers.
"It's the right policy for the cable industry and the growth of the Internet," Case said.
AOL and Time Warner are merging to create a new company valued at about $350 billion.
Spring Internet World is an annual trade show that showcases the latest in Net technology from big and small companies. Fifty thousand people are expected to attend this year's installment, the show's seventh.