February 3, 1998 9:00 PM PST

Netscape: Stop and buy the roses

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Netscape Communications continues to expand its online offerings, this time with a cobranded site with the FTD florist network.

Starting tomorrow, users will be able to order and send flowers and other gifts through an FTD "storefront" on the Netcenter Web site. The deal adds what is already a popular online item to the Netcenter shopping lineup of books from Amazon.com, music from Music Boulevard, and travel arrangements from Travelocity.

As with these other vendors, FTD will continue to run its own Web site, independent of Netcenter. By gathering all the storefronts into one virtual "mall," however, Netscape hopes to keep visitors on its site and bring in revenues from advertising.

Netcenter is Netscape's attempt to cash in on the popularity of its Web site, fueled in part by the fact that it is the default home page for all Netscape browsers until users opt to change the default setting.

The company sells advertising on the site, which is ranked consistently in the top five visited sites every month in many surveys, as are Microsoft and Yahoo. Netcenter has about 2.6 million members, according to Netscape's latest count.

Netcenter also includes Web hosting services, office supplies, search links, news headlines, Internet directory information, and Netscape software. The site is rapidly becoming a competitor to sites such as Yahoo and Lycos, both of which have recently moved to broaden their community appeal. (See related story)

But the increased competition could become a problem, as Yahoo is one of Netscape's closest Netcenter partners and largest advertisers.


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