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Chapter 50. Getting Online > AOL: The 800-Pound Gorilla of ISPs

AOL: The 800-Pound Gorilla of ISPs

The reason I give AOL equal weight to everyone else is because, as far as home users are concerned, it accounts for nearly half of all U.S. home Internet users. You might say it's the McDonalds of the Internet: Millions and Millions served! Why is AOL so successful? Well, its marketing muscle is enormous. Just think of the millions of CD-ROMs that not only come with the necessary software but offer free online time.

But there are other reasons why AOL is so popular. For one thing, the company makes the Internet relatively simple and straightforward. All you need is a PC and an AOL installation CD (in fact, the AOL software is preinstalled on many computers.) AOL goes beyond just making it easy to get on the Internet, though; AOL has proprietary content that is available only to its subscribers, but it also provides access to the broader Internet. Other Internet service providers generally provide a connection to the Internet but no special data. The AOL content is presented clearly and is easy to navigate, because it's logically organized in to channels such as Autos, Careers, Games, Health, and Kids Only. Of course, you can find the same type of information on the Web using another ISP, but AOL does make it easy.


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