April 19, 2004 5:29 PM PDT

AOL plans to revitalize Netscape?

In an attempt to revitalize its mostly gutted Netscape division, America Online is seeking to hire product management and business development professionals.

On Monday, Jeremy Liew, general manager of Netscape.com, posted a message on a jobs mailing list calling for candidates to apply to work for the organization, which played a key role in the development of the Web but has since faded from glory.

"Netscape is aggressively hiring right now," Jeremy Liew said in the posting. "We are treating Netscape as a 'restart,' with a mandate and a budget to take Netscape in a dramatically different direction, although still focusing on its current businesses as the No. 2 Web browser and No. 3 general audience portal."

Liew said the company had multiple positions in product management, with "experience in search, browsers, consumer-facing Web sites, consumer software, authentication/personalization, or Web publishing all valuable."

The openings are for positions in Columbus, Ohio, Liew said. An AOL representative was unable to give a current employee count for the Netscape division, partly because programmers may work on other AOL properties as well.

A source close to AOL confirmed that the message was authentic. AOL on Monday declined to give details about plans for Netscape. "Netscape is a terrific brand and there's a lot more we can do with the portal," spokesman Jim Whitney said. "But we're not prepared to discuss our plans at this time."

Netscape helped make the Internet a household name with its browser software. In 1994, the company launched Version 1.0 of Netscape Navigator, which was a commercial version of the pioneering Mosaic program.

Netscape largely owned the browser market when it went public in 1995 and was still a contender in 1998, when the Netscape browser's market share ran neck-and-neck with that of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Also in 1998, America Online said it would buy Netscape in a deal then valued at $4.3 billion. Given the Internet stock boom, the transaction's value rose to $8.98 billion by the time shareholders approved it.

But America Online, which later merged with Time Warner, began devoting fewer and fewer resources to the Netscape browser, and Microsoft's IE came to dominate the browser arena.

The settlement last year between Microsoft and AOL Time Warner (which has since dropped the AOL from its name) seemed to formalize the Netscape browser's demise, as Time Warner inked a seven-year contract to use IE in its flagship service.

Netscape at this point offers a discount Internet access service and serves as a portal that boasts 19 million unique users a month, Liew said in his jobs posting. Netscape also had about 18 million downloads of its browser in the last 12 months, he said.

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Good Move
I have seen many modifications of the Netscape browser and I must say that it is still alive and full of great features. I see many organizations that use Netscape products till this day and I think that AOL sees this as a growing potential. I must agree with this. Also, the recent settlement (approx. $750 million) from the software giant, Microsoft Corporation, also helps aid AOL with this old but new venture.

Great move for AOL!
Posted by (3 comments )
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A little more history
The story leaves the impression that IE is technologically more advanced than Netscape and that is why it has the greater market share. This is not the case, as anyone who uses Netscape 7.X knows.

When IE became competative with irs first usable version, IE4, Netscape was still a commercial product sold for about $20, as I recall. IE was "free" with Windows and was installed automatically with every Windows 98. There was a law suit for monopolistic practices concering this issue, among others, as I recall. This forced Netscape to rapidly change its business model, even though it still had the better technology, and may have been a reason it was sold to AOL.

AOL's reliance on the Mozilla open source browser for Netscape 6.X and after was a two edged sword. They had excellent features that followed the W3 standards but they were forced to use an unstable beta version for the heart of Netscape 6.0. The features of Netscape 6.0 were better than IE5 or IE6, but Netscape was crash prone until 7.0. By that time it had lost most of its market share, while the US Government just about walked away from its own victory in the anti-trust case.
Posted by MCK68 (7 comments )
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excellent move !
I think this is a excellent move by AOL to try and bring back Netscape - both the online portal and the excellent browser based on Mozilla 1.7.

Just anyone know how to contact the General Manager, Jeremy Liew,. Thanks for the help .
ankush
Posted by (1 comment )
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I MISS my NETSCAPE..... :((
I have used IE (Internet Explorer) extensively in job-related situations, but I still prefer the Netscape that I used to know - and loved to use - when it was still supported. It saddens me that I have to switch to IE because there is no longer a CHOICE, due to the big corporations making deals and kissing each other's butts/bank accounts -- and the consumer be damned. Well, that IS how the world turns, but I don't have to like it.
By the way, Netscape mail - which I am still using - is so far superior to any of the 15-20 alternatives I have tried over the past several years, that I don't know how I will function without it. Yes, I will function, but are we going backwards here?
Posted by (2 comments )
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I agree
Do you have any ideas as to how we can make a difference in AOL's decision? Or is it a done deal already?
Posted by (2 comments )
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Yes! Netscape 7 rocks!
I got so frustrated with Internet Explorer, I finally deleted it from my Apple IMac 233, rev B. I went to Netscape 6, then to Netscape 7.02. The look and feel is so much better than IE, and it seems to work more intuitive with my IMac.

I added my name to the petition to make AOL do builds for Netscape! I feel the browser has a lot of potential!
Posted by appleimacdude (3 comments )
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