AOL logs on 10 mil subscribers

It doesn’t mean the same thing as a big Nielsen rating — yet — but America Online, cyberspace’s leading network, announced Monday that it has surpassed a worldwide membership hurdle of 10 million subscribers.

The benchmark comes after months of severe growing pains that resulted in service problems, in turn leaving many AOL users frustrated and angry as they received busy signals during dial-up attempts.

And though it has no intrinsic meaning, AOL execs said the 10 million subscriber milestone symbolizes the destiny of the online world to become a true mass medium that has already started to attract big-buck advertisers and sponsors, and eventually to weave itself completely into the marketing and consuming habits of people worldwide.

Part of everyday life

“The interactive medium is exploding into a global mass-market phenomenon,” said Steve Case, chairman and CEO of AOL. “Cyberspace is becoming an indispensable part of everyday life, and it is exciting for AOL to be at the heart of this revolution.”

AOL was founded in 1985, and reached the 1 million-member mark by 1994. After that, canny design of its computer interface, coupled with sharp growth in personal computer sales for home use, helped AOL grow its subscriber base to five million by 1996.

520,000 simultaneous users

Now, with its 10 million users, AOL claims some 520,000 simultaneous users at any given time, which the online network describes as comparable to the primetime viewership of successful cable networks such as MTV or CNN.

Obviously hoping to avoid further dial-in debacles, AOL said it is adding 25,000 modems monthly, and now fields a total of some 600,000 modems available for subscriber calls.

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