"We're not beaten yet," was the thrust of Netscape chief executive Jim Barksdale's message on Tuesday, when he outlined the latest goal in his ongoing browser war with Microsoft. Netscape aims to sign up a further 500 corporate customers - each with 500 users or more - in the US this year. But it is also looking way beyond the browser for its future revenues.
While admitting that it is entirely possible for both Microsoft and Netscape to produce statistics that 'prove' each firm's lead in any particular market sector, Netscape executives at a special briefing in Mountain View, California made great play of what they claim is a 70 per cent share of the corporate market. The company currently has some 200 corporate customers.
Netscape remained as reticent as ever about releasing detailed information about the revenue raised from its installed base, but added that its ambition was have 100 million copies of the Navigator browser in the market by the end of this year. There are currently some 65 million copies in circulation.
The company hopes that this number will be pushed up courtesy of a new campaign, dubbed 'Netscape Everywhere', which will see an America Online style promotion with over 100 million copies of Netscape client software sent out to homes, schools and businesses.
It was all part of a move by Barksdale to position Netscape as an enterprise software company, a crucial move if the company is to prove that there is life beyond the browser. "Most end points of the network are in businesses, not homes," he said in his opening address. The company intends to focus as much on its competencies in Intranets, servers, email and electronic commerce as on the browser.
Barksdale claimed the Intranet software market would potentially be worth $10 billion a year by the turn of the century - as much as twice that, if revenue from electronic commerce and Web advertising is taken into account. "The strategy we are rolling out today doubles the size of our target business market," he said.
According to Barksdale, the company is now engaged on a three-pronged enterprise strategy. The first element of this was put in place last year with Netscape Communicator and Netscape Suitespot, which enabled the firm to win a strong foothold in the corporate Intranet market.
The company now wants to build on this by working to link businesses together via the Net as the second phase, with a third phase of connecting business partners to end users of the Internet as a means of distribution and product or service delivery.
The company also intends to make a move into the professional services market, a move that takes it, in theory, up against Big Six players such as Andersen Consulting. Heading up this initiative is Randy Favero, vice president of professional services at Netscape, who was recruited from IBM's ISSC division.
He has already grown Netscape's consulting staff from around 60 in the early part of this year to a current US total of 135. He plans to have 600 people in place by the end of this year. "When customers look for the best implementation of our technology,they will look to us," he vowed.
There are also changes afoot in the company's sales strategy. Already in place is the Netscape Solution Expert channels scheme - which offers channel partners training in design and deployment of Intranet applications and electronic commerce solutions.
Meanwhile, last week, the company launched Netcenter, which will offer downloads of software as well as building on the success of Netscape's home page, which currently registers more than four million hits each day. "We have a marvellous asset in our Web site," said Barksdale. "It is time we took more advantage of that as a mechanism to complement the reach and utility of Netscape software."
The company is also set to push its Actra electronic commerce subsidiary further into the spotlight as Netscape seeks to increase revenue derived from business-to-business transactions. On Tuesday a strategic partnership with Canadian telco Bell Canada was announced, targeted at offering a global electronic network for conducting such transactions.
The two companies will develop a value added network in Canada - to be called the Bell Business Network - which will enable businesses to buy and sell products and services over the Internet. The EDI transaction network component will be provided by Actra's ecommerce products.
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