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Dow Jones doing tech, money site

The publisher of the Wall Street Journal apparently is gearing up to expand its online offerings in technology and personal finance.

Dow Jones & Company (DJ) apparently is gearing up to expand its online offerings in technology and personal finance, part of a package that will cost $29 to $49 annually.

The company quietly has launched a new technology page, dubbed "Tech Center," with categories dedicated to computer hardware and software, commerce, and tech stocks, according to the Wall Street Journal Web site. The site also promotes a separate standalone personal finance site called SmartMoney Interactive, which provides stock quotes and investment tips, among other features. The site will go live next week.

Neil Budde, editor of the Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, today declined comment until next week, but much of the new information already can be seen on the Web.

The added offerings come less than a week after the online publication entered the sports fray with bolstered sports coverage and game statistics. (See related story)

According to the WSJIE site, Tech Center and SmartMoney Interactive will be included as part of a subscription to the business newspaper's interactive edition, which costs $29 annually if you receive the print version of the Journal. SmartMoney also costs $29 with a subscription to SmartMoney magazine, a joint effort by the Hearst Corporation and Dow Jones. Otherwise, it costs $49 annually for the Net personal finance content.

The new offerings are expected to heat up the online competition for technology and personal finance news. In technology, online competitors include ZDNet, the newly relaunched CMPnet, and CNET's NEWS.COM, as well as online versions of the New York Times and Mercury Center, among others.

The personal finance field is getting crowded too, with the list including ventures by Money, Intuit, and Excite, Charles Schwab, and Microsoft Investor, among others.

While most of the technology news offered online is free, much of the personal technology news is not. For example, Time New Media announced last month that it would launch the Money.com Plus site for $29.95 per month for Money magazine subscribers and $49.95 per month for everyone else.

Analysts say companies still face hurdles charging customers for content on the Web. But they add that media giants such as Dow Jones and Time, with established brand names in print, stand a better chance than many. All the companies are chasing Web advertising dollars in a growing but crowded market.

The Tech Center area of WSJIE lists content under "Systems," "Ventures," "Fast Forward," and "Tech Stocks." The content contains bylines from the staff of the Interactive Edition, Dow Jones news wire, and the Wall Street Journal, but it also comes with a smattering of wire-service copy from the Associated Press. The area also lists some technology company profiles, discussion centers, and personal technology center.

It runs ads from the likes of Microsoft, Compaq, and GTE.

The standalone SmartMoney Interactive site has categories such as "Market Today," "Smart Investor," and "Answer Center," and also offers a search function to provide a snapshot of mutual funds. It also provides updates from articles in SmartMoney magazine and has extensive links to the "wsj.com" site.