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Netscape offers Individual service

Netscape is giving Individual the reins of Industry Watch, a section of the Netcenter Web-based service.

Netscape Communications (NSCP) is giving Individual, a company known for its customized daily news deliveries, the reins of Industry Watch, a section of the Netcenter Web-based service.

Netscape envisions Industry Watch as an information hub for business professionals on the new Netcenter service. Netcenter seeks to take advantage of the high traffic coming to the Netscape Web site and pull people to the company's business partners, chief executive Jim Barksdale explained recently.

The company claims to get about 130 million hits a day. It's unclear how many of those hits are the result of Navigator users accidentally clicking on the browser's "N" or the "Home" icon, assuming Netscape is set as their default page.

Material for Industry Watch will be organized into three main sections: vertical market information, business-related news headlines, and an archive and research area.

The material initially will be culled from existing Individual services, which already deliver daily news headlines and company profiles. Industry Watch will also add information centers for over 20 vertical markets, including health care, semiconductors, and financial services. The service, which Netscape announced two weeks ago as part of the Netcenter launch, won't be available until November. Some services, such as searchable archives and analyst reports, won't be ready until later.

Parts of the service will also require a fee for specialized searches. Netscape is giving Individual the leeway to negotiate with third-party information providers for content and pricing structure, but Netscape has to approve any decisions, according to Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Netscape's Web site.

"We don't have a large team of editors--Individual does," she said. "Our strategy is to work with the best companies, not compete with them."

Netscape has already agreed to contract other parts of Netcenter out to third parties. The "Software Depot" section is under the aegis of Cybersource; the "Virtual Office" section, which offers Web hosting and other network services for small businesses, is run by ISP Concentric Network.

The company is relying on others' expertise, but Bailey denied that it was ceding control of its Web site. "In all these relationships, we work together to design the service and define the product," she added. "We've structured the relationship so it's mutually profitable for the companies to work together, and you'll still feel like you're on the Netscape Web site."