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AOL top knob Barry Schuler today claimed the Internet would be more important than the Industrial Revolution.

Speaking to attendees at Fall Internet World in New York, he said the "Internet Revolution" would "transcend the Industrial Revolution on the effect on mankind". Schuler, who is president of the US ISP's Interactive Services Group, was relentlessly upbeat throughout his presentation.

Around 75 per cent of e-shoppers have bought online while in their pyjamas, which is a good sign, he told the assembled masses. This means cyberspace is getting into more aspects of people's lives, and users are spending longer online - AOL reckons its average customer spends one hour per day on the Net.

And the next wave will be through the use of non-PC devices to get online. The technology behind the four key boxes in the home, the TV, music player, computer and telephone, will converge through the Internet in the next decade, he said. They will all be run via one broadband pipe in the home - in his words, just part of: "a huge wave of transformation" we should expect.

AOL today launched version 6.0 of its ISP software, which allows users to listen to email via the phone, and is designed to connect to any appliance - via cable, satellite, broadband - with no configuration needed.

"Buckle your seatbelt, because the next five years are going to be way more exciting than the last," he chuckled.

The audience Q&A chucked up a question about the election - who did Schuler think would be the best president for AOL, and for the Internet in general?

But he dodged: "I'm undecided. I keep waiting for the big thing that's going to convince me."

"All of us would like to see this industry remain free, and not bogged down by administration." He added that after the recent merger negotiations regarding Time Warner, he had no wish to be near Washington again for a while. ®

* According to the Centre for Responsive Politics, AOL is the second top election contributor in the Computers and Internet industry, and has given a total of $1.3 million to the election cycle 2000 so far. Fifty-eight per cent of that went to the Republicans.

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