RealTime IT News

Netscape Rounds Out Netcenter Offerings

Netscape Communications Corp. officially made its Netcenter site live today following an overhaul aimed at giving the portal a more pivotal role in the company's new business strategy.

Earlier this month Netscape unveiled a three-pronged plan under which the company said it planned to focus on electronic commerce applications, infrastructure software, and the Netcenter Internet portal.

Netscape's vision for Netcenter first came to light when the company announced "Project 60," a two-month effort aimed at turning the site into a more full-featured 'front door' to compete directly with the likes of Yahoo!, Excite, and Lycos. Today's launch marks the culmination of that campaign which has seen a host of deals along the way.

In conjunction with today's launch, Netscape and Excite introduced nine new co-branded content channels--Arts & Leisure, Auctions, Autos, Classifieds, Education, Games, Lifestyles, Real Estate, and Shopping.

In addition, Excite subsidiary Classifieds2000, which claims to feature more than $100 billion in merchandise and services, will contribute its classified ad database of 1.5 million listings to Netcenter.

Excite has played an intrinsic role in the expansion of the portal following a $70 million agreement signed in May to provide the software company with its search services and gain a "Premier" partner presence on the portal.

On June 2, Excite announced the partnership generated $21 million in advertising revenues in a two month period for its Netscape inventory that includes keyword, directory, channel, and sponsorship opportunities.

Netscape also signed on Alta Vista, InfoSeek, Lycos and LookSmart as Premier partners in addition to Excite. Yahoo!, however, declined to sign another contract with Netscape, and will be pulled from the site in July.

Other initiatives saw the company signing deals with Atrieva Corp., Concentric Network, Netopia, Amazon.com, Better Business Bureau OnLine, software.net, Travelocity, NewsEdge Corp. and The Mining Company to appear in its Small Business Source section.

The content agreements were seen as part of push by Netscape to provide more news, information and services targeted at a business user audience.

On June 1, Netscape announced plans for "My Netscape," a feature designed to blend the portal site with the company's Communicator and Navigator client software.

A Smart Browsing service, which is scheduled to launch by the end of July, will be tightly integrated with both Netcenter and Netscape's browser software.

Back in April, Netscape was a late entrant into the free e-mail game, partnering with USA.NET to offer users a free e-mail service through Netcenter.

As reported in InternetNews.com's Internet Stock Report at the time, free e-mail is just one of the services offered by competing portal sites as they play the "copy cat" game in an effort to become the leading front door for Internet users.

For Netscape, which was also forced to play "catch-up" in the portal game, today's Netcenter launch marks a significant strategic step towards that goal.