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Netscape Outlines New Strategic Shift

In the face of recent growing skepticism about its overall strategy, Netscape Communications Corp. today unveiled a new business plan that focuses on promoting its enterprise software and e-commerce solutions, and emphasizes the company's continued commitment to develop its Netcenter portal site.

In a statement released today in advance of its corporate strategy briefing in San Francisco, Netscape highlighted three areas of business development that will play a pivotal role in the company's bid to compete with the likes of IBM and Microsoft in the enterprise software market, and Excite and Yahoo! in the portal space.

First, Netscape said it will concentrate on marketing its enterprise software solutions to companies looking to become Enterprise Service Providers (ESPs)--those companies building service-ready infrastructures designed to serve a range of partners, suppliers, employees and customers.

Second, in conjunction with the launch of two new beta versions of its electronic commerce applications, Netscape reported it will focus heavily on promoting its CommerceXpert line e-commerce solutions. The CommerceXpert suite will be targeted at ESPs, Internet service providers, and system integrators looking to deploy business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce solutions.

The third part of the business plan follows an announcement earlier this week in which Netscape unveiled plans to closely integrate its Netcenter portal site with future editions of the company's Communicator and Navigator client software.

The company said today that Netcenter will continue to play an important role in providing its business partners with a means to generate revenue via e-commerce services targeted at Netcenter's customer base.

Netscape also announced plans to host CommerceXpert-driven services for its business customers in the next few months, and will join with service providers to outsource commerce-based services.

"We see a marvelous synergy between the two sides of our business--our enterprise software solutions and the Netscape Netcenter portal site," said said Jim Barksdale, president and chief executive officer of Netscape, in a statement. "Netscape is the only vendor that can meet the needs of enterprise customers whether they decide to build, buy or outsource their business services--and provide them with an enormous, ready market for their value-added services through Netscape Netcenter."

In support of what the company is billing as its "Net Economy" strategy, Netscape also announced a series of new partnerships today.

Ford Motor Company will use Netscape Directory Server software to build the Ford Supplier Network, an extranet designed to enable Ford to deliver applications and information to its base of over 200,000 global suppliers.

Netscape also pledged to work with Bay Networks Inc. to develop what the companies are calling the market's first Directory-Enabled Networking (DEN) solution. In addition, Bay Networks licensed Netscape Directory Server and will bundle the software with Bay Networks Contivity Extranet Switch products.

Netscaped added that 25 new independent software vendors have chosen Netscape Application Server to deploy business-critical applications, and the company entered a new partnership with Sun Microsystems to provide customer support and training for Netscape enterprise software on the Solaris operating environment.