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November 21, 1995

CD-NET AND CD-ONLINE ANNOUNCE PRODUCTS INCORPORATING CD-ROM TECHNOLOGY WITH THE WEB

By CBR Staff Writer

Last month two UK ventures announced their hybrid CD-ROM-World Wide Web offerings. CD-Net is the brainchild of Module Communications Ltd – hitherto specialising in information consoles and kiosks. The London-based company has teamed up with Internet consultancy pow Communications, to offer a CD-ROM-based system that combines video, pictures and sounds held on the disk with on-line page layout and text presentation. Meanwhile CD-Online, a wholly-own subsidiary of Philips Electronics NV is intent on turning the CD-i-player into an Internet browser. Part of this effort involves persuading advertisers and other information providers to build applications that combine CD-i-based visuals with data held on CD-Online’s Web site. Both operations are commissioning custom Web browsers that will ship on the disk, and will be tweaked to work with the dual media system. Both say that mixing disk-based data with on-line information produce strong, complementary offerings. But while they have a similar approach to combining the two technologies, their business models are quite different. CD-Online is positioning itself as an Internet service provider with a difference – the difference being that it is initially appealing to existing CD-i users, or people who want to surf the Web for around ú500. The company will sell a package comprising 14.4Kbps modem, cables and disk for ú100. There is a ú20 sign-up fee, after which there is a ú12 per month flat-rate charge for Internet access via Unipalm Group Plc’s Pipex. A CD-i player needs to be fitted with Digital Video Cartridge. A new CD-i disk will be sent out to subscribers initially every quarter, but eventually monthly; this will contain updated visuals for information providers hosting information on CD-Online’s own site. Though the company will do the multimedia authoring for its information providers, this isn’t a primary money- spinner. The CD-Net effort, on the other hand is setting itself up as an authoring house. The emphasis is on providing CD-ROM based packages that can be accessd by anyone with a multimedia personal computer and an existing Internet account. They are currently in talks with a couple of retailers who want to use the system as an alternative to glossy catalogues, a company that wants to build public information kiosks and a few other potential customers. The hybrid approach is garnering support quickly as traditional multimedia CD-ROM authors fix on it to keep their products up-to-date.

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