Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen flew into London last week to dispense two pieces of advice for companies considering electronic commerce: move aggressively to establish customer relationships and assume the new medium will work globally.
Netscape itself is also taking a two-prong approach to making money out of the Internet. Since it gave up charging for its browser, Netscape has established itself around two businesses with the huge browser installed base feeding into the two units.
Andreessen said Netscape?s ambition is to be "a software company and an online service company".
Netscape's software business, which helps firms implement electronic commerce, is worth around $400 million and is growing by 70 per cent a year.
The Netcenter unit is based on Netscape?s Internet portals. It draws on the strength of Navigator?s installed base and is worth around $30 million per quarter. Growth is set at around 50 per cent per quarter, calculates Andreessen.
He believes Netcenter will change from being consumer led to a business focus within 12 months, with the help of partners. There will also be different Netcenters for each country.
Andreessen claims there are 70 million Navigator users representing around 58 per cent of the world?s surfers. But it is losing marketshare to Microsoft at a rate of one per cent a month.
Questioned about the difference between Netscape and Microsoft?s approach to the Internet, Andreessen stressed that Netscape sets up partnerships, whereas Microsoft is prepared to lose money to establish its own presence.
On the subject of competing with Microsoft, Andreessen said you can't compete head-on with a company having the market power of Microsoft: you have to go around, or do things differently.
Andreessen saw the browser battle moving towards an online service battle, with the object being to build networks of online users in hubs of electronic commerce. "That's really where the browser battle is going, and Netscape has an excellent chance there," he said.
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