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CNET: the Computer Network unveils its first new Web product this September when it launches Snap! Online, a consumer service accessible through CNET's Web site (

The San Francisco-based company, which has made a name for itself by providing industry news for technology enthusiasts on TV and multiple Web sites, now wants to teach neophytes how to enjoy the Web experience.

Snap! Online, however, is not intended as a consumer brand, according to CNET Chairman-CEO Halsey Minor. Instead, it's a desktop browser that acts like an online service, with a customized co-branded interface for marketers and Internet service providers. Snap! helps consumers find an Internet service provider and offers browsing and search capabilities with links to popular Web sites.

Companies expected to license Snap! include: AT&T Corp., BellSouth, Earthlink, MCI Communications Corp., Mindspring and Sprint Corp.


The product of a 150-person research and programming team, Snap! will be marketed on CNET's Web site through a targeted e-mail campaign and TV advertising. It will be distributed through ISPs, third-party marketers and computer manufacturers.

Registrants who ask for the product can use it free of charge, although they must pay for Web access. Snap! users get a training CD-ROM, which is customizable in third-party deals to reflect a marketer's brand. And while no marketers have yet to sign on, Intel Corp. is a CNET investor and several deals are currently under negotiation.

Consumers using the service can access an index of 75,000 sites, compiled by Snap! (expected to grow to 150,000 by yearend), as well as use a custom search engine developed by CNET.

Mr. Minor said his company will generate revenue by charging partner companies one-time affiliation fees "in the hundreds of thousands of dollars" and smaller annual charges.


CNET will sell advertising on Snap!, including on all versions it licenses to marketers. However, on their customized versions, licensees can bar Snap! from selling ads to up to five of its competitors. Rates are undisclosed.

Vendors receive space on the Snap! home page to post content, marketing messages or advertising. Additionally, vendors obtain full ownership of their customer database, an advantage advertisers may not have on traditional online services.

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