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7/28/2005
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AOL Launches Beta Version Of Personalized Homepage

Consumers can use the "My AOL" feature to access America Online based on their specific interests, choosing the services and information to which they want immediate access.

America Online Inc. on Thursday unveiled a beta version of a personalized homepage, the latest addition to the company's web portal.

The My AOL feature lets consumers access the portal based on their specific interests, choosing the services and information they want immediate access to. In addition, the customizable page supports data feeds from websites distributing news and other content over RSS, or really simple syndication.

The latter feature stems from a partnership with Feedster, an RSS search engine that lets AOL users search and subscribe to publisher-specific and topic-based feeds, Dulles, Va.-based, AOL said.

"By enabling consumers to create their own personal home page on AOL.com to manage all of their sources of online information in one central location, My AOL provides a convenient solution for a usually time-consuming ritual: visiting multiple Web sites and blogs multiple times each day to catch up on news," said Kerry Parkins, director of audience products at AOL, a division on Time Warner.

Personalized homepages are offered by portals such as AOL and rivals Yahoo, Microsoft MSN and Google, in the hope that consumers will chose them as the starting point for their web surfing. Starting with a specific portal makes it more likely the consumer will use its services first, before heading somewhere else.

AOL is moving many of the services available in its subscriber-only portal to the web in order to try to cash in on the growing online advertising market. The Internet service provider's proprietary portal has been losing dial-up subscribers over the last few years as more people turn to broadband.

AOL last month launched an entertainment portal that focuses on video content in order to attract high-speed-connected consumers.

On Thursday, AOL announced an agreement with ABC News, which would provide news content and video programming, including breaking news updates and live video streams.

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