IN A dramatic reorganisation of its on-line service strategies, Apple Computer said last week that it would consolidate all of its on-line information and content development efforts into one division, and move its proprietary eWorld service on to the open Internet platform. The new division, called Apple Internet Services, expands Apple's overall focus on on-line services, but it ends the company's attempt through eWorld to build a proprietary information service based on Apple-only technology. The new strategy will include the launch of a series of Apple-branded World-Wide Web sites and services next year in markets in which it is strongest, such as education and publishing. Significantly, the strategy includes plans for a series of Asian-based Web sites featuring localised content, including local-language in some markets. The new division also assumes management responsibility for eWorld, with the specific mandate of moving the service closer to the Internet. The proprietary eWorld offers TCP/IP access, Internet mail gateways and fairly clumsy access to the Web, FTP sites and Usenet newsgroups. But next month eWorld is expected to deploy a new interface offering direct and immediate access to select Web sites from within eWorld. The next major upgrade of eWorld, which is slated for mid-1996, is expected to be based primarily on open Internet standards rather than on its current proprietary technology. The eWorld service, which has been operational in the United States for about a year and was officially launched in Hong Kong recently, has about 115,000 subscribers and has been distributed primarily as a bundle with new Apple systems sold worldwide. 'We will be adding progressively more links to Internet [from eWorld], so that eventually the Internet becomes more and more transparent,' said Doug Nelson, the Singapore-based Asia business manager for the new Internet Services Division. 'The general concept is that we will be moving much, much closer to the Internet, and we will be bringing with us some very exciting and very relevant local content,' he said. It is not yet clear how the new Asian-specific content will be organised in Apple's plans for new Apple-branded Web sites, or how or even if the company will charge for access to certain content. It may be that within an Apple-branded Education Web site, for example, a section of the site would be devoted to Asian-specific education content and issues, eventually including local language areas. Other sites may be devoted entirely to Asian content. Mr Nelson said the concept was that the Apple sites would be as interactive as possible, and based on the ideal of community. Under the new corporate structure, the Internet has become a high profile focus for Apple. The Apple Internet Services division, which is led by vice-president Peter Friedman, has been charged with working in tandem with the company's software organisation under vice-president for Systems Software Technology, Ike Nassi, with the mandate of developing new Apple products and technologies. In a statement issued last Thursday, Apple chief executive and president Michael Spindler expounded on the company's seemingly new-found love of open platform, and the Internet. 'We think the future of the information industry - open platforms, diverse media, the elevated customer voice for differentiated services - is unfolding on the Internet today,' he said. 'We plan to build on our existing strengths and leadership in the electronic services realm and advance aggressively. 'By consolidating our Internet content and services work, and focusing our on-line service on the Internet, we aim to quickly create a powerful and influential Apple community on the Web.' Under the new strategy, Apple Internet Services expects to develop its portfolio of new Web sites both independently and in conjunction with other companies, but primarily targeting content provision that addresses the interests, needs and aesthetics of people in Apple's principle markets. That means Apple could well be expected to deliver Web sites focusing on, for example, creative professionals, or home computing users, or perhaps university students and professors. Two such sites are available in pilot: Web City ( http://www.eworld.com /general/) and Learning Community ( http://www .eworld.com/learning). The first of the new sites is expected to appear on-line early next year. Apple runs about 25 company Web sites, ranging from its corporate home page ( www.apple.com ) to the QuickTime VR Web site (qtvr.quicktime.apple.com) to the Apple Japan site ( http://www.iijnet.or.jp /apple/index-e.html).