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Netscape announces service for small businesses

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CIOL Bureau
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Reshma Kapadia

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NEW YORK: Netscape, a unit of America Online Inc., is expected to introduce

on Wednesday a new service aimed at helping small businesses get online.

The new service, called Netbusiness, aims to offer a personalized and

community-focused approach to help small businesses in their online endeavors -

from creating an online presence and attracting customers to making transactions

with suppliers and consumers.

Netbusiness will be available across several AOL brands, including AOL.com

and CompuServe, for free and will incorporate several of AOL's services

including localized entertainment guide Digital City, MapQuest and popular

instant messaging service ICQ.

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It will also be incorporated into the next version of AOL's browser, Netscape

6.0, due out later this fall.

"The core to the site is helping businesses get online," said

Netscape senior vice president for small business Fred Singer in a recent

interview. "Of the businesses that are small, only one-third are on the

Web. What AOL did for consumers we are trying to do for small businesses. No one

has put together the right mix of content and services for (small businesses).

We are going in a major way and we have the resources to do it."

The service will target local businesses, a group that overlaps with AOL's

current 24 million subscribers, he added.

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Netbusiness, which has been in a test phase since July, will have several

components, including a "My Industry" feature that will provide

customized market news and research reports for the user.

My Business will offer users a "Netbusiness Card" where business

owners can post their information and be integrated into AOL yellow pages,

allowing them to generate awareness of their products and services.

It also has an instant message feature customized for business users that

lets customers and businesses swap real-time messages whenever they are online.

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My Life, another area on the Netbusiness destination, aims at providing

information on lifestyle issues.

Shop Direct will offer direct access to the best prices for office products,

general services and administrative support among other things.

Among the partners providing services to Netbusiness will be BigStep.com

Inc., FedEx Corp., TMP Worldwide Inc.'s online careers site Monster.com, Network

Solutions Inc., PurchasePro.com Inc., Stamps.com Inc. and Office Depot Inc.

Netscape plans to expand the partners but Singer said the company had aimed

at making things "easy and simple" in the first introduction of the

product.

(C) Reuters Limited 2000.

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