When Netscape Communications launched the latest version of its Netscape
browser earlier this week, executives at the Mountain View, Calif. company
and its parent, America Online, knew it had its work cut out for it.
Not only has rival Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser (now MSN
Explorer) established a dominant market share in the years since Netscape
debuted its last major version, Microsoft actually has a longstanding
distribution agreement with AOL to include Explorer with the service’s
But beginning this week, Netscape is hoping to strike back. A contest,
the “Netscape 6stakes” promotion, is aimed at encouraging consumers to
download Netscape 6 or order a CD with the browser.
Travelocity.com and Time Inc. Online are co-sponsoring the promotion, in
which more than 1,000 prizes will be awarded, including a $100,000 grand
prize. Participants also can win six-day vacations to Hawaii, the Caribbean
and golf resorts, or six weeks of flowers, six magazine subscriptions, and
six music CDs.
Netscape will also run banner ads on several business and technology Web
sites, and a radio campaign in key markets. Print ads will run in select
Time magazines and several publications from hobby magazine publisher
Netscape did not disclose the amount of the media spend.
Netscape is also aiming to gain support abroad for its new browser. The
company simultaneously launched Netscape 6 in English, Japanese, French and
German-language versions. In partnership with Sun Microsystems, Netscape
will deliver Netscape 6 in Italian, Swedish, Spanish, Chinese and Korean in
coming weeks. Netscape includes region-specific features and services with
the international versions, including a built-in list of regional links for
In addition to CD distribution within several Time business, news and
lifestyle magazines, Netscape inked distribution agreements with several
ISPs and computer manufacturers. EarthLink and Sympatico-Lycos will
incorporate Netscape 6 in their software, Covad Communications will include
the browser as part of it its Virtual Broadband Service Provider software,
and Fujitsu PC Corporation will pre-install the browser on its 2001 line of
Netscape is also reprising its affiliate distribution program, which
enables partners to distribute customized, co-branded versions of the
browser for free. Netscape counts about 95 thousand companies in the
Despite an uphill battle, Netscape execs are confident about the new
browser’s success, and said the campaign will leverage users’ need for an
alternative to Explorer.
“The one thing we hear over and over from Internet users is that they
want real choice,” said Jim Martin, senior vice president and general
manager at Netscape. “They don’t want to be limited to just one browser.”