AOL Time Warner unit America Online increased its European subscriber base by 40% in 2000, adding 1.4 million new subscribers acorss the continent. This ups the online titan’s Euro-membership to 4.6 million, claims AOL International president Michael Lynton.

According to Lynton, a similar rate of growth has been sustained in 2001 despite the economic slowdown: "We haven't seen the market cooling whatsoever," he said, despite declining to reveal either growth or profit projections.

In bull mode, Lynton boasted that AOL will become the leader in each of the major European online markets. But AOL still has a lot of ground to cover before it can achieve that end. Although it has overtaken Wanadoo in France and its UK subsidiary FreeServe, it still trails Deutsche Telekom’s T-Online which has 7.9m paid users.

Impartial observers find it difficult to measure AOL’s claims with accuracy because of uncertainty whether subscriber totals include promotional free trials – currently employed on a massive scale. Nor does the company publish figures concerning conversion of free trialists to full membership; nor of paid subscriber attrition.

News source: Wall Street Journal