Third of Net Users Will Start with AOL

New data released by Cyber Dialogue show that Netscape and America Online users are two very different breeds, which presents a challenge to AOL now that the two have become one.

The AOL/Netscape merger means that one out of three US adults who go online at least once a month will soon start their online session by opening a page owned by AOL. By year-end 1998, some 20 million surfers will fit this description, according to Cyber Dialogue.

“Based on audience reach, this deal makes AOL the hand’s down winner of the race to capture online eyeballs, ” said Thomas E. Miller, Cyber Dialogue vice president. “However, our surveys show that Netscape’s typical customer is far more business-like and oriented toward efficient use of the Internet. They’re not likely to tolerate a barrage of unsolicited online merchandising offers.”

AOL properties under the new deal will reach 70 percent of the U.S. online market, including the third that begin their online sessions either by signing on to AOL or to Netscape’s Netcenter. AOL should also be able to expand the Netscape browser market installed based by 4 million users or more, depending on whether AOL decides to continue distributing Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Cyber Dialogue’s data, gathered from the latest American Internet User Survey (AIUS), suggests that Netscape users are considerably more net savvy than are AOL users. It reveals that Netscape users are more reliant on the Net to make personal choices, such as choosing an ISP. For example, Netscape browser users are 40 percent more likely than AOL users to have switched ISPs in the past year.

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