AOL targets Europe for convergence

Co. outpacing local online services in Germany, France and U.K.

CANNES — A new box is coming to Europe. That’s the word from AOL Time Warner exec Robert Friedman, who said that AOL TV, the division of the conglom which he heads, is prioritizing Europe as the most fertile foreign ground in which to plant the company’s brand.

In an upbeat assessment of consumers’ willingness to multitask in front of their TV sets, Friedman said Monday that AOL’s “ease of use” and “relationships with consumers” will help it achieve a beachhead on the Continent.

Already, he pointed out in a keynote address called “AOL Anywhere,” there are 6 million users of the online service in key Euro territories. In fact, AOL is outpacing local online services in Germany, France and the U.K.

Branding crucial

As for the new box that will gradually incorporate the features of the computer, phone and TV set, “what matters,” Friedman said, “is not the box itself, but what you get from the box. That’s why we at AOL TW stay focussed on content.” He also said that the forces of convergence and media clutter are moving now more quickly than ever before; having the No. 1 brand is thus ever more essential for success.

In the prexy post at AOL TV for just three weeks, Friedman attributed his bullishness on branding to his career start at MTV, his stint at Playboy and his years heading New Line TV.

Friedman’s remarks served to kick off the fifth annual Mipnet conference flanking the Mipcom market.

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