AOL is the fastest-growing on-line service with about 3 million subscribers, and a reputation for being easy to use. It has aggressively marketed its product with a blizzard of free software disks distributed through direct mail, magazines, and requests.
H& R Block’s CompuServe was the first on-line commercial service in the U.S. having been started in 1979. It currently has about 3 million subscribers and the largest number (about 3,000) of content providers, ranging from United Airlines to all major computer hardware and software companies. It has a strong presence overseas where it is available in 150 countries.
Prodigy, a joint venture of IBM and Sears Roebuck & Company, has about 1.6 million subscribers and a new user interface designed to make it easier to use and more appealing graphically.
Table 4. Penetration of current NII-related services in the U.S.a
Local and long distance voice via 2-way and multiparty communication
94% of U.S. households have telephones.
20 million Americans, mostly business people, use cellular phones.
11 million Americans use 900 numbers each month, 50% of which are for erotica.
2% of the U.S. workforce telecommutes, working at home several days a week.
Entertainment via television and cable
85% have a videocassette recorder.
65% are connected to cable TV.
Text data access via computer networks
34.7 million households (22%) have a personal computer.a
6.3 million households are connected to on-line computer services (e.g., CompuServe, Prodigy, America Online), growing at 40% annually.c
20 million Americans use the Internet, growing at estimated 40,000 monthly.
6000 bulletin boards exist on the Internet where people can exchange information.
aU.S. population = 240 million people in 160 million households.
bPew Center survey of home computer ownership, 1995.
cThe 1995 Pew Center survey estimates 12 million.
Table 5. Time for diffusion of technologies
Telephone diffused to 50% of households 70
TV diffused to nearly all households 34
VCRs diffused to 65% of households 13
PCs diffused to 30% of households 20
On-line services diffused to 50% of households ?
Table 6. Players in the NII
Long distance telephone companies (AT&T, MCI, Sprint)