AOL Markets PC to Latinos, Beginners

NEW YORK America Online has introduced a computer system in an effort to attract the estimated 27 percent of U.S. households yet to purchase their first PC, chief among them Spanish-speaking homes.

The AOL Optimized PC, available in Office Depot stores this month and other retail locations this fall, comes with the latest version of the AOL service. For bilingual consumers, the computer includes a version of AOL 9.0 Optimized for the AOL Latino service; it also allows them to select and switch between English- or Spanish-language preferences on various desktop applications.

“We hope to empower these consumers to take advantage of all the resources the Internet has to offer,” said AOL Latino vp and general manager David Wellisch in a statement. He noted that according to the Synovate 2004 Hispanic Report, 55 percent of English-language dominant Hispanic households have Web access at home, compared to 20 percent of the Spanish-language dominant households.

The computer’s price: $299.99, plus a yearlong AOL membership commitment of $23.90 per month.

Separately, AOL said today that it plans to combine its Black Focus, and Black Voices brands this fall to create a destination that goes by the latter’s name. The new Black Voices property will feature special programming, content and resources aimed at the African American community. The Dulles, Va.-based Time Warner unit already offers personalized services for kids and teens, called KOL and RED, respectively.