AOL this week introduces the AOL toolbar for both subscribers and nonmembers which opens AOL more so to the public than ever before, giving toolbar users an open door to the Google powered AOL search and members can view incoming email messages.
Along with providing a search box for AOL search, the toolbar lets users add icons to popular AOL content areas such as Yellow Pages, white pages, maps, weather, stock quotes, movie times and AOL CityGuide. Other features include the toolbar standard popup blocker and access to AOL Instant Messenger. While AOL provides a toolbar for Netscape, the latest toolbar is its first for the AOL-branded service, AOL officials said.
“As our members’ habits change, we are trying to be flexible enough to change our product strategy to be where they are,” said Mike Sommers, director of product marketing for AOL Search.
AOL is joining the toolbar trend as multiple search engines have launched similar services – in some instances to get their search box to be a main point of Internet access from user desktops. Earlier in the week Google and RealNetworks announced that the Google Toolbar is being distributed with RealPlayer 10 downloads.
Now, not only Googlers will have the Google Toolbar installed in their IE browser, but by making the Google Toolbar available to the very large number of consumers who install the new RealPlayer 10 every day, Google Toolbar is sure to be popping up on the browsers of more everyday computer users and possibly the browsers of people who prefer Yahoo or other search engines.
Such toolbar/download bundling partnerships are bound to becoming a battleground for search toolbar companies. With MSN, Yahoo, Amazon’s A9, UCMore, and other search related toolbars hitting the market left and right, this may start a “toolbar distribution war” among search engine companies.
The AOL Toolbar, available now as a free download, supports systems running Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer 5.5 or later.