Dow Jones & Co. Inc. today abandoned a 15-month effort to sell investment news and other information on preselected topics to subscribers using FM-radio frequencies.
The company said it will terminate the service, known as DowAlert, and dismiss 27 members of the 59-person staff in South Brunswick, N.J., involved in the project.
DowAlert had attracted a peak of only about 1,000 subscribers and now has 750 customers--far short of the 10,000 Dow Jones reportedly had hoped to attract, sources said.
"We have concluded that that we cannot sell and retain the required number of subscribers to make the service self-supporting," the company said in a statement.
The service, which was operated on a test basis, offered subscibers in Boston, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia access to news and information on up to 10 companies or topics of interest.
For $75 a month, data on the selected subjects was automatically broadcast to the subscribers' special FM-radio receiver, which had a built-in tape recorder much like a telephone-answering machine. A red light would tell customers to listen to the tape recording.
The company--which publishes The Wall Street Journal and Barron's, offers a news service and data-retrieval system and is involved in a number of other publishing ventures--said it would launch a new service called DowPhone.
A test of that service is scheduled to begin within 60 days, a company spokesman said. DowPhone will offer fewer than the 10,000 categories of information DowAlert offered, and no special equipment will be needed to receive it.