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Onsale broadens products, partners

At most Net auctions, the most you can hope to walk away with a computer. But if Onsale has its way, you could become the proud owner of a frozen steak.

At most Net auctions, the most you can hope to walk away with is a mouse, a keyboard, or maybe a computer. But if Web auction house Onsale (ONSL) has its way, you could one day log off the Net as the proud owner of a frozen steak.

"We anticipate broadening our offering dramatically," said Onsale chief executive officer Jerry Kaplan, whose company has until now sold computer wares and consumer electronics. "We just did a very successful test on off-season vacation time-shares. We found that our users would purchase an Omaha steak at auction."

As part of its "big picture" view of online auction possibilities, Onsale announced a partnership with CBS Sportsline today to launch a cobranded Sport & Fitness Auction Supersite to offer sports wares. Following a similar agreement earlier this month with America Online, the company announced promotional agreements with Netscape, Excite, and NetBuyer.

Kaplan added there was more to come from the company in both promotional and product partnerships.

Bidders make their offers at the Onsale Web site, and the Web pages for particular products--several identical items are typically sold simultaneously--are updated automatically. Bidders can increase their bids via email or by returning to the Web site. Winning bidders are notified by email or on the site itself.

Onsale, which faces competition from sites including bidnask.com and Internet Shopping Network's Firstauction, celebrated its 2 millionth bid earlier this week. The company has recently made forays into the higher-end business computer sales and sold a Hewlett-Packard Internet server (final bid: $18,549) earlier this month.

Onsale had its IPO in April. From an initial asking price of $6, the stock rose modestly over the next four months to skyrocket this month. The stock closed today at 27-5/8.

"The stock began to rise as the investing community has begun to understand the nature of our opportunity and our relative market position," said Kaplan. "Investors are accepting that Onsale has the opportunity to dominate this area."