IQ News: CompuServe Recomputes

After a company-wide reorganization of staff and strategy, CompuServe Interactive Services, Columbus, Ohio, will re-launch this week with a faster, more streamlined format. The redesign is the first major change to the service since it was acquired by America Online, Dulles, Va., last February.
Though CompuServe is relying on its parent for marketing, ad sales and technology, the two online services will remain distinct. The CompuServe service will continue to target the business user, and AOL will continue to be consumer-focused. “They’re very different brands with very different audiences,” said Mayo Stuntz, CompuServe president.
The new 4.0 version of CompuServe features content reorganized into 20 channels and a new main menu. With a simplified registration process, the new service also features easier-to-use technology. For example, a Java application that was used to run a ticker in CompuServe’s online newsroom was replaced by software already running within the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser, which is integrated into the service. “CompuServe has been deep and broad and hard to use,” said Bob Kington, vice president, programming and executive producer of CompuServe. New communications capabilities include integrated voicemail, fax and email messages that can be sent to pagers or faxes.
CompuServe, whose growth has been stagnant for some time at approximately 2 million users worldwide, is also testing marketing strategies to woo new members. A new ad campaign designed to reflect the new efficiency of the service is currently running and will ramp up in the fall.
–Anya Sacharo