AT&T prepares to Pogo into browser fray

AT&T reportedly is planning to launch a three-dimensional, Firefox-based Internet browser called Pogo sometime in the next several months, in an effort to strengthen its brand relationship with Internet users. The browser eventually will be available as a free download.

Most telcos have stayed out of the browser wars, leaving it to other firms bent on owning that point of immediate engagement with Internet users. While AT&T's move may seem uncharacteristic of a telco, its a timely move in the right direction for a major broadband service provider. While no one is tossing out their TVs to watch video exclusively on their personal computers, AT&T is making a bet that browsers or browser-style entry points to multiple devices will be the broadband service interface of the future.

It is a relatively painless bet to make. Though AT&T invested in Pogo developer Vizible, and undoubtedly is pouring further money into Pogo's development and marketing, there is no revenue pressure on Pogo to succeed. It may even deliver some unanticipated (but hoped for) gravy if advertisers want to buy spots on it in the early going.

The browser business definitely is not a core telco business, but as telcos become different kinds of service providers supporting a variety of content over multiple services and devices, staking a claim on the front door to that world might be the thing future customers will most remember.

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- Dan