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March 8, 2000
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Is this the Game Plan
The Excite Broadband Portal will be released by March 31, 2000. That time frame came from George Bell, so it's reasonable to believe that we'll see the Broadband Portal soon.
Along with the broadband portal will be, I believe, the AtHome2000 intergrated browser -- which will make Excite@Home's model extremely similiar to that of AOL's business model. The difference naturally will be that the open page interface can be changed to any web-site your heart desires and we have the commodity of the future (badwidth, always on connection). But the key to this is that it'll make using Excite@Home very easy to navigate, use, browse, etc. once hooked up. Most Internet surfers don't change their original settings/defalt page on their ISP so this bodes great for Excite@Home.
This is a key developement for them. It'll lock users into the Excite@Home experience for "service" functions and let the user navigate very easily. As this model pushes forward it elicits endless amounts of content aggregating and deal making with Internet Content sites looking to get first crack at a big audience through co-branding and links on Excite. This is a sound strategy: Speed, simplicity, and content distribution.
That the Broadband Portal isn't out yet may account for the missing story behind E@H -- the story that should be conveyed by our PR Team to the Street which sometimes needs and wants things spelled out for them. Looking hard at this company the above strategy appears reasonable enough. But it doesn't make much sense for the PR Team to "pound on the table" with the companies strategy until it's tangible, IMO. It also doesn't make too much sense to pound on the table with the announcement of the "Open Access' ruling in Portland due out -- saving great hedge news in case of a negative ruling may be in our best interest.
In fact, I think that's what they are waiting for -- for good or ill -- before they unleash the Strategy, the Plan, the Foray into an Aggresive Bombshelling from Excite@Home's headquarters.
Thinking back to the AtHome2000 intergrated browser, with Excite being the defalt page, I think of set-top boxes. George Bell also said they were still in the developement of Set-top boxes. This could turn out to be an area that launches Excite@Home self-intalls to the expotential sub growth we long for -- before 2002 1/2 and the end of exclusivities.
One of the problems is that many computers are not near a cable terminal. But there are myriad TV's that are ready for a set-top box to be plugged in and conected to the WWW though Excite@Home's high speed connection -- with Excite once again being the defalt page.
A distribution deal with Tandy would Excite me (sorry for the pun), as would any deal for distribution for set-top boxes and self-installed cable modems. We already have many; Circuit City, Good Guys, etc. I think more distibution arrangement announcments are sure to come though. Also, the more readily available houses are with two-way upgraded fiber optic the more Dell, Compaq, HP, etc. will ramp out computers pre-intalled with cable modems.
This all bodes well for Excite@Home if this is the current strategy. Down the road we will see Open Access. By then Excite@Home will be entrenched and the end to exclusives will be as big as the non-event of the Y2k scare. And to further argue Excite@home's cause, all their cable partners (yes, including At&T) cannot promote any other ISP through advertisment other than At Home 3 years post exclusives even with the advent of Open Access. This means we still have the advertising of 23 major cable companies pushing At Home for another 6 years and longer. How does that match up against AOL Time Warner? Plus, we'll have 10-18 million subs doing a lot of PR for Excite@Home's product at the time of exlusive expirations.
No question, Brand building will come. But right now, the agenda is one of that Excite@Home will be AOL on steroids. And we shall soon see what we've been waiting for since the merger took place about a year ago. If you've waited this long you might as well wait until March, 31st at a minimum. So if you're merely following the stock price ya might want to think about what is to come before selling. I personally don't think there is a need to duck out now because our business plan and direction is just about to take shape. But then, again, what do I know as a long term shareholder?
Long At Home,
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