The disco lights were flashing red, purple and blue around the stage and the music was pumping. The heavy bass sound pounded in our hearts and the combination of lights, music and the action of Steve Case made the audience alive with excitement. Yes, you read right, Steve Case was the stud on stage in the electric light show. And where was this booming hot event? Why, no where else than hip-hop central--the Equitable Center on Seventh Avenue. Tuesday, October 5 at precisely 9:50 AM, AOL launched and unveiled their newest release 5.0. Saul Hansell of The New York Times and over a hundred other journalists and myself scribbled notes as Steve Case, Bob Pittman and Barry Schulleur spoke to AOL's new ways. Did you know that five years ago this week is when AOL launched? Then there were 1 million users who used AOL 1 hr./week and now there're 18 million users who are on AOL 1 hr./day. A slick video montage of all sorts of "5" related signs (from street signs to people's hands to Grover on Sesame Street saying "f-i-v-e") showed AOL's growth in Fives. Steve announced AOL is listening to its subscribers and adding features they want, like more (and longer) screen names.
Bob Pittman pranced up on the stage, following Steve's hot intro, and told us how a significant tell-tale sign of the way people are changing their lives based on the Internet: 52% of people have moved furniture in their home to accommodate a computer. Another sign 'o the times? December 25th, 1998, was their biggest day ever for online usage.
After a boogie and a shake, Barry bounded up to entertain with some in depth insight and demos of the new-fangled 5.0. "You've got Pictures," which is backed by Kodak, "My Places," a truly-easy-customizable homepage interface, search capabilities with results organized in AOL and out on the Internet, Netscape Open Directory approval and support, a Calendar, enhanced shopping capabilities, more customization, convenience and broadband support were thrilling high points in his aria.
And with a resounding finish with much bravado, an LLBean tote, AOL 5.0 mail icon adorned clock, a box of chocolates and the standard T-shirt, and we were on our way!
* Tried AOL 5.0 yet? What do you think? Tired of the hype?*