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Juno, Amazon go shopping together

The free Internet service provider launches a new online shopping tool with Amazon.com aimed at increasing the breadth of its offerings.

Free Internet service provider Juno Online Services said Monday that it has launched a new online shopping tool with Amazon.com aimed at increasing the breadth of its offerings.

Analysts reacted unenthusiastically to the service, dubbed "Shop Online," which is meant to bring Juno a step closer to becoming a one-stop portal but undercuts the goal by redirecting people to Amazon's Web site.

"I don't see that this...propels them forward," said Zia Daniell Wigder, analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix. "It may round out their other portal offerings, but it's not going to be anything that necessarily drives end users to the (Juno) service...I'm not sure that partnering with Amazon will get them much farther down the road."

New York-based Juno also announced Monday a deal with Weather.com to provide local weather reports.

The deals come as free ISPs attempt to survive a shakeout in the sector by attracting mainstream consumers and offering services equal to their for-pay competitors. Juno chief executive Charles Ardai said that his company is building its offerings to keep consumers no further than a click away from the basic Juno portal.

"We would love to see many Juno members find everything that they're looking for within the Juno environment," Ardai said. "We're always trying to make it a richer experience for users."

Ardai said that through Juno's prior relationships, the company has found that it's unnecessary to be the originators of content or the primary providers of tools and applications.

"We try to identify the best of breeds in partners," Ardai said. "We don't have to become experts at online retailing; (instead) we work with Amazon. We don't have to become experts at looking at the sky and predicting whether it will rain; (instead) we work with Weather.com."

Juno has already lined up deals with companies such as IBM, Snapfish.com and Time Warner, making it the first outside ISP to win a carrier contract with the cable company.

Analysts, however, said that Juno needs to provide unique content that can't be found anywhere else or launch a specialized portal.

"They'll need to build something more than just another broad portal site," said David Marks, a media analyst at Gartner. "It seems that they're almost a step behind other broad portal sites where those sites are already realigning themselves upon a vertical basis. Juno is stepping into a space that those other sites are now leaving."