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First browser war gives way to first portal war

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The browser wars went away, but have been replaced by portal wars. Nobody really yet knows if portals will prove to be enduring, or whether surfers will be sufficiently loyal to keep advertisers spending. E*Trade, one of the more popular Internet share trading sites in the US, finally launched its portal yesterday, and made more than 90 per cent of its site accessible to non-customers. E*Trade's decision was influenced by research that showed that there are some 10 million visitors to its site that are not yet investors. Other Net brokers only cater for customers, so E*Trade is clearly hoping to convert visitors to customers. E*Trade is likely to be one of the enduring second tier of portals for a specialised audience. Yahoo links to its homepage, as does AOL -- the latter reportedly receiving $25 million from E*Trade in a two-year deal. Softbank invested $400 million in E*Trade a couple of months ago, although during its promotional and expansionary phase, profits are not expected from E*Trade. Disney has registered go.com for its forthcoming portal, but the domain name no longer refers surfers to Disney's home page. No date has been announced, but a preview portal may appear at the end of the year, with a lunch early next year. The go.com name, requiring users to type in only "go" in many cases, will lessen the possibility of an adult site being encountered if "Disney" were miskeyed. It also makes it easier for the portal to showcase ABC and other Disney brands. ®

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