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Net gives clues to Coke plans

There's rampant speculation that Coca-Cola will announce that it will start selling bottled water--and the Web, of all places, provides some clues that this may be true.

ATLANTA--The hottest news here is rampant speculation that Coca-Cola, the hometown sugar water maker, will announce as early as this week that it will start selling bottled water in the United States--and the Web, of all places, provides some clues that this may be true.

Nobody's talking (in such a cutthroat industry, Coca Cola considers these matters top secret). But the Web--overlooked by many "old-fashioned" marketing sleuths--provides a reason to believe that the bottled-water launch may be imminent.

Coke's bottled water is supposed to be named "Dasani," and sure enough the sodapop giant registered the domain name "Dasani" back in October. The link is now live, connected to two giant computer servers dubbed "NS1.KO.COM" and "NS2.KO.COM," just like the domain names for other Coke products. (KO is Coke's ticker symbol). For now, the site only provides a tour of Coke's virtual museum but that could change.

Coke's U.S. foray into the estimated $4 billion-a-year bottled water market also is being closely watched by Wall Street, which hopes that bottled water could put some pizzazz into a relatively flat financial performance of late.

Coke rival Pepsico already sells bottled water under the name Aquafina. Pepsico registered that domain name last fall.