Internet media company Yahoo Inc.'s chief executive Terry Sernel has claimed that Yahoo would pass its target of 2 million subscribers by the end of the year and post 20 percent growth in marketing services in 2003.
His forecast contrasts sharply with the outlook provided on Dec. 3 by AOL Time Warner Inc., which said ad sales at its America Online Internet access business would be down as much as 50 percent next year. Yahoo's marketing services business includes ads and paid search listings.
The company offered no changes to the guidance it gave in early October, with a forecast for 2003 revenue of between $1.08 billion and $1.18 billion.
The company claimed that through the third quarter, 70 percent of the company's subscription revenue came from four services: Internet access, personal ads, extra e-mail storage and the ability to access Yahoo mail through standard e-mail programs.
Semel said he expected Yahoo to get more involved over the next year in Internet access partnerships with cable and phone companies, as it has now with SBC Communications Inc. "We will participate, as the other big companies will, over the next year's time, no doubt about it."
While Semel declined to offer details on pricing or the nature of those plans, he indicated that all the big Internet media companies would be involved in so-called "bring-your-own access" deals in the next year. AOL last week indicated it was more aggressively pursuing such deals as many of its subscribers sought broadband connections through other sources.
With such a package, users would still be able to keep AOL e-mail, instant messaging and content, for example, regardless of who they connect to the Web through. "We' re not defending a dial-up business," Semel said about AOL's recent strategy to push into paid services to help offset a slowdown in other areas of its business. "And we have a six month to one year head start in on all our competitors."
Semel also said the future deals with cable and phone companies would not be structured in the same way Yahoo's SBC deal, indicating that the company's first access deal was a unique situation.