Internet Service Providers
EarthLink leads by being flexibleNo Internet service provider is more deserving of a top spot in the ISP category than EarthLink. A combination of two hard-working providers, EarthLink and MindSpring, No. 1 fights hard to become a real alternative to America Online. EarthLink has built its business on being a service company as flexible as the Net itself, and its long-term strategy to cater to more sophisticated users is bound to pay off big once the novelty of being online wears off in another five years.
It is telling that no free ISPs are at the top of the heap, having fallen victim to declining online advertising revenue and hard times for experimental business models. Still, free ISPs may make a comeback as more Old Economy companies, like American Express, discover the value of target-marketing their customers through an Internet connection they control.