US Report: Netscape says changes starting to pay off

Netscape's executive VP, Mike Homer outlined the future of Netcenter and said its browser share has grown slightly since it began giving Navigator away for free, during a speech in San Francisco yesterday.

Homer said Netscape would roll out several features on the site within 60 days as part of its plan to become a major portal to the Internet along the lines of Yahoo! In the future, Homer said the company plans a Netscape-branded search service, more integration between the browser and Netcenter; and more leveraging of Netscape technology to deliver information to users.

The company launched Netcenter last September with plans to make it a destination service site. In January, the company made it the default home page for Navigator users, a move Homer said has led to a 33 percent boost in home-page traffic. He called the site "the story behind the story behind Netscape." Hambrecht & Quist analyst, Danny Rimer approved of the plan: "Netcenter is in a very good position today to leverage the traffic they have," he said.

Netscape also claimed the Navigator giveaway, which started April 7, has stemmed a sharp decline in browser market share that the company has lost to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Netscape's share fell from about 60 percent in December to 56.5 percent in February, but it's climbed slightly since then, to 56.57 percent, the company said.

The company also said it would concentrate on selling its technology to Internet service providers and very large corporations, staying out of the small- to mid-sized business market. "We've obviously been turning the ship," Netscape co-founder, Marc Andreessen told analysts. "It will take a few quarters to execute."