Netscape Unveils Chinese Language Portals

Saying it will draw upon its experience in building successful e-commerce businesses — Netscape announced today that it is expanding its Chinese Netcenter by launching two portals with localized content.

The company said the launching of the portals — one in traditional Chinese for Hong Kong and Taiwan and the other in simplified Chinese for the mainland — follows up on its recent release of Netscape Communicator 4.51 in simplified Chinese, the company’s first Chinese language browser.

The browser gives the approximately four million Chinese with Internet access an opportunity to log onto the Web with a Netscape product in their native language. The company claims that a recent survey revealed that 60 percent of Chinese households with Internet access use Netscape Communicator.

“Netscape is well-positioned with local partners to share in the growth of the Internet in China,” said Netscape VP of International Netcenter, Linda Lawrence. “The fact that Netscape was the first global portal in China demonstrates our commitment to the development of China’s Internet industry.”

China Netcenter gives users much the same as here in the United States: Search engines, directories, and e-commerce links. The Chinese-language offerings are undoubtedly slimmer than their English-language counterparts, but there’s little doubt that will change as the Internet catches on in China.

Network of Established Connections

Netscape is no stranger to China and neither is its parent company, America Online (NYSE: AOL). Last month, AOL took a 10 percent equity stake with an additional 15 percent option in China.com, the Chinese-language portal that recently soared in its first week of trading on the Nasdaq exchange.

This symbiosis gives Netscape a leg up on competitors in China and provides familiarity in a country that remains an enigma to many in the West. Netscape is working with China Internet Corporation (CIC) on the content for its new portals. AOL signed a deal with the same company last year to build an AOL Hong Kong service, but that has failed to materialize to date.

CIC was responsible for building the China Wide Web, a nationwide business information network that its says has forged alliances with Reuters, Bloomberg, the Financial Times and Nikkei to deliver business news across its network.

Like every other company that is looking to expand their Internet presence in China, Netscape hopes today’s news delivers tomorrow’s dividends. If a small slice of the country’s 1.3 billion residents gravitate towards e-commerce in the years to come, there will be many smiling faces in the industry.

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