A number of outlets ran an AP story by Chuck Bartels about Wal-Mart's much-delayed introduction of its own branded online service. The offering results from a 1999 partnership with (who else?) AOL. It will be based on the CompuServe online service, which has long since been acquired by AOL. Bartels reported that it will be priced below $10 per month.
Bartels questioned the wisdom of introducing a bargain ISP service at this point in the tech slump, noting that other "experiments to offer free or low-cost Internet service have been largely unsuccessful." The reporter quoted a Gartner analyst who "questioned the buying power of those consumers that Walmart.com is aiming to reach." A Wal-Mart spokesman responded with this spectacularly mixed metaphor, "We can't back off on growth. The ball's on our shoulders."
SatireWire gets the last word on Wal-Mart Connect. Here's how the site's brief story sets the scene for the retailing giant's announcement: "Emerging from the deep, isolated cavern where its executives apparently have been hibernating for the past two years, Wal-Mart Friday proudly announced ..." Boy, it's bright out here.