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Netscape ups small-business offering

In the latest addition to its two-month Netcenter construction effort, Netscape will announce the launch of a channel for small-business content.

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In the latest addition to its two-month Netcenter construction effort, Netscape Communications tomorrow will announce the launch of a channel for small-business content.

Dubbed Small Business Source, the channel will aggregate content and services--including Web site creation and editing tools, Web hosting services, news and information retrieval, and chat rooms and other community forums for small-business owners.

The new channel will not only strengthen Netscape's efforts to become a top gateway to the Net or "portal" site, but it also is clearly an attempt to capitalize on a growing opportunity: tapping into the small and medium-sized business market.

The channel will offer a mix of free and subscription-based services, according to Netscape.

"By working with all of our partners and in understanding the needs of small-business users, we have provided a one-stop shopping and aggregation of services that those users need," said Netcenter's content program manager Hillary Mickell.

Netscape in the past month has redoubled its online efforts, launching late last month its so-called Project 60, a two-month project to build out Netcenter into a major portal site.

Announcements so far include the upcoming addition of free email, offered in conjunction with USA.net. Also coming soon is a Netscape-branded search engine and content channels, developed with portal Excite.

Netscape will develop business channel content without the collaboration of Excite, whose content responsibilities will lie in more arts and lifestyle-oriented areas.

Netcenter's current small-business service offering consists mainly of ConcentricHost, a suite of subscription Web hosting services from Concentrix. Netcenter's current content offerings for businesses include Net publication subscriptions via the Inbox Direct email service, a business news service, bulletin boards, and a directory of profiles of other business people using Netcenter.

The Small Business Source will bring a long menu of new content offerings, the firm said, including the following:

  • Atrieva will provide online backup and retrieval services for a flat monthly fee of $14.95.

  • Netopia will offer users "virtual offices," which include real-time communication features such as chat and screen sharing.

  • The Mining Company and NewsEdge will provide business-related news and information with links and a news ticker.

    Other firms will provide their products and services to Netcenter small-business users. Amazon and Preview Travel, for example, will offer small-business-oriented storefronts.

    The new channel, like other Netcenter areas, will earn Netscape money through a three-tiered model. Roughly equal sums will come in through advertising sales and Netcenter's take in transaction revenue. Sponsorship fees, in which companies pay Netscape to do business on its highly trafficked Web real estate, will bring in a third, lesser portion of revenue.

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