March 19, 1997 11:00 AM ET
Netscape focuses on flexibility in searching
By Robert Lemos

  Netscape Communications Corp. yesterday announced an alliance with search utility providers to offer a central searching site for users of the Web.

"This continues our work with content providers to showcase their technology and to increase functionality for end users," said Jennifer Bailey, Netscape's vice president of electronic marketing.

Starting May 1, visitors to Netscape's Net Search site will be able to specify a default search engine from a list that includes Excite Inc., Infoseek Corp., Lycos Inc. and Yahoo Inc.

"The group of search and navigational centers is beginning to stratify," said Lycos President and CEO Robert Davis.

Netscape officials said they decided to add the new functions because users wanted to choose their favorite search services.

Other advanced functions will be available for users of Communicator, Netscape's advanced communications package that will include the Netscape browser, a new E-mail client and several other new components and functions. No release date has been set for software.

However, any browser that supports JavaScript will be able to use the page, including Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer 3.0 and 4.0, according to Netscape sources.

"Our intent is to add value to our site and partners, not to our browser," remarked Netscape's Bailey. Netscape's Internet site receives more than 4 million hits, or requests for a page, per day.

Netscape intends to continue its Netscape Flagship program, where providers feature the Netscape Now button on their sites and use Netscape's client and server software for their services.

Analysts noted that Internet users can already search for information using multiple providers. Indeed, Microsoft already offers a similar feature on its Web site.

The decision to also team with Netscape may well be a protective move by search engine providers, the analysts said. If more users turn to sites like Netscape to begin their searches, the home pages operated by the search engine companies may suffer a decline in hits and, as a result, less revenue from advertisements.

Copyright(c) 1997 Ziff-Davis Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Ziff-Davis Publishing Company is prohibited. PC Week and the PC Week logo are trademarks of Ziff-Davis Publishing Company. PC Week Online and the PC Week Online logo are trademarks of Ziff-Davis Publishing Company.

Send mail to PC Week