Feeds

AOL-MSN hype war starts

A suspicious absence of two-way satellite, m'lud...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Application security programs and practises

By a bizarre coincidence Microsoft mounted a "$1 billion" marketing campaign for the new MSN yesterday, while AOL retaliated with the launch of AOL 6.0. Microsoft will be blitzing the US retail channel with free MSN CDs, while AOL will be giving away CDs in about 50 retail chains.

AOL gazumped the MSN announcement by claiming 25 million users worldwide the day before, thus emphasising that MSN is the challenger, with just 3.5 million. But all is not quite as the spinmeisters would have you believe; the Microsoft $1 billion is not quite what you'd think of as $1 billion, and both companies' announcements seem not to mention the satellite broadband services they'd each promised for Q4.

As with the $500 million promo campaign for Xbox, the Microsoft billion includes a large quantity of marketing spin. Xbox, incidentally, has also figured in the coincidences department this week - you can't have helped noticing that members of the press appear to have been granted interview rights with various Xbox luminaries who told them nothing new about next year's model. But it's helpful spin against Playstation 2, which is really rolling out.

MSN actually has a global marketing budget of $150 million for the new MSN, the billion being what total spend on the service will be over the next year. There's plenty of scope for fuzz in there, but at least some of it will consist of retail partnerships (deals with retail outlets where virtual money moves back and forth), cross promotions (ditto) and rebates (which are intended to be clawed back from consumers via fixed-term contracts). Most of this "spend," we can assume, will actually be in the US, where MSN has been forging its retail partnerships most diligently.

At the moment MSN seems to be largely silent on the broadband satellite service it's supposed to be rolling out this year in conjunction with Gilat. Gilat itself reiterated its intention to launch the StarBand two-way high speed satellite service in the US this quarter, when it announced its IPO earlier this month. Earlier this year Hughes Network Systems (HNS) filed suit against Gilat claiming patent infringement.

And here comes another one of those coincidences. HNS and AOL actually did announce a broadband satellite service this week, but AOL seems to have been too busy with AOL 6, AOL by phone and whatever to get around to mentioning it yet. But a joint release is available from HNS, if not from AOL.

AOL Plus Powered by DirecPC "creates new online possibilities for all of AOL's 25 million members," which is puzzling, considering it's priced in dollars and "is available at Circuit City and independent satellite dealers nationwide." DirecPC is available elsewhere in the world, but it's not at all obvious that the AOL-branded version is. Search AOL for satellite and you get redirected to the Direcpc site, where it becomes apparent that it isn't. A further diligent search of the FAQ reveals that DirecPC and AOL Plus Powered by etc are separate services with separate software, running off different satellites.

Something else that may or may not be available is two-way satellite broadband, as promised by HNS for Q4 this year. As the company said in April: "The two-way product and service will also offer new capabilities to support the announced AOL Plus Powered by DirecPC service." The actual announcement this week is however of a 'broadband one way, modem the other' service. It'll consist of a satellite dish and a USB modem, priced at $149. Oh, and it's only available for Windows right now.

So two way broadband delayed by both parties? You wouldn't know it from the marketing hoopla... ®

Related stories:
Writs in space: Hughes lawsuit spanners broadband MSN
N's next big heave -- broadband access from space
HNS AOL Plus FAQ

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.