The soon-to-be launched MSN.com is “not number one yet,
but it will be,”
Richard Barton, GM of Microsoft’s Travel Business Unit confidently
predicted at a
travel industry conference.
Barton said consolidating the audiences of all
of Microsoft’s sites that comprise the new MSN.com would rank the
site as the third largest on the Web.
Barton made the remarks Monday at PhoCusWright Live 98, an interactive
travel industry conference held in Phoenix, AZ.
MSN.com sites currently have a market reach of 34 percent, up from 16
percent at this
time last year, according to figures from Relevant Knowledge, Barton said.
Microsoft sites in the new MSN.com hub include the default page for
Internet Explorer, the in-box page
of HotMail, the
existing MSN.com home page, Home Advisor, Money Central, Expedia, SideWalk
Barton compared Microsoft’s MSN.com strategy with the company’s merging of
its applications software titles. Several years ago, the user interfaces
and functions of programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint were
standardized to function as the integrated office suite known today as
Microsoft Office. Microsoft will use the same approach with MSN.com,
although only common branding and some user interface features will be
standardized when the service launches later this fall.
Precisely how Microsoft will make money from creating such a marketplace
hasn’t been identified. “We don’t know how money
will be made,” Barton said.
Barton said that Microsoft is “confident that if
we build the best Internet applications,” the company will make money.
According to Barton, Microsoft has invested about $100 million in creating its
online travel site, Expedia.
Furthering his analogy to Microsoft Office, Barton said the new MSN.com
will be “all about Internet productivity.” Barton added that by making
users productive, Microsoft expects to “provide a superior medium for
marketing and distribution” of products and services.