Netscape has officially charged for Netscape Navigator, but Microsoft changed the game by making its Internet Explorer free when it entered the market in late 1995 and began a corporate resolve to focus on the Internet.
Now Netscape is considering formally offering its own free browser, a move that could help it reclaim falling market share.
"It's certainly something that's under consideration. That's not out of the realm of possibility," said Edith Gong, a Netscape product manager.
Added Group Product Manager Daniel Klaussen: "Changing the revenue model is a very interesting possibility. Whether that [price] approaches zero or not is why we all went to business school."
Microsoft's IE has come on strong through aggressive promotion and bundling deals with Web providers-not to mention that it's built into Windows 95. IE's market share reached 28% in January, according to Zona Research. Netscape has most of the rest.
Netscape now officially charges $49 for Navigator. Corporate customers, Netscape's main focus, generally pay up. Navigator's shrink-wrapped package also is a top seller at computer stores. But many PC users get the program free through software bundles or a World Wide Web service
Netscape is proceeding with the second-quarter launch of Netscape Communicator, successor to the current Navigator. Communicator, incorporating a new version of Navigator and other features, will sell for $59 or $79, depending on the version.