Netscape brand phased out by alliance

Netscape, the brand name that was once synonymous with the Internet with its spinning celestial 'N' logo, will soon be dropped from the company's many server and Internet application products. The Sun-Netscape Alliance will instead use the iPlanet name on most products.

Netscape, the brand name that was once synonymous with the Internet with its spinning celestial "N" logo, will soon be dropped from the company's many server and Internet application products.

The 100-day-old Sun-Netscape Alliance, a unique corporate triumvirate resulting from America Online's purchase of Netscape and its simultaneous alliance with Sun Microsystems, will drop the Netscape brand in favor of the iPlanet name on most of its products, Sun-Netscape Alliance officials announced this week.

The loss of the Netscape name on such products as Netscape Application Server (NAS) and Netscape Web Server comes as a bittersweet development: The majority of the products and technology taking the iPlanet name were developed by Netscape. Yet that Netscape brand name apparently did not hold favor with Sun and AOL.

"The fact that they replaced the Netscape name with a meaningless one argues that they saw a negative value to the Netscape brand. And that's only something companies do after they've done a lot of research," said Jeff Tarter, editor of Softletter, a monthly newsletter about the software industry, in Watertown, Mass. "The chickens have come home to roost on company behavior -- Netscape burned a lot of developers."

The alliance this week also named longtime Sun employee Bud Tribble the alliance's chief technology officer.

Tribble, the former vice president of architecture and technology for the Consumer Embedded Division at Sun, co-founded Next Computer and worked with the software engineering group at Apple Computer during the development of the groundbreaking Macintosh interface.

With the iPlanet announcement, the final peal of Netscape's death knell as a stand-alone entity may have been sounded. Even the corporate name -- the Sun-Netscape Alliance -- will be relegated to the fine print on the back of a CD package.

The alliance plans to release the next versions of its two application servers -- NAS and Sun's NetDynamics application server -- with their current names, but the servers will soon thereafter take on the iPlanet moniker. And an amalgamated server, predominantly based on the NAS code base, will arrive in early form late next winter as an iPlanet product, said Stewart Wells, senior vice president for alliance infrastructure products.

On the mail server side, Sun Internet Mail Server 4.0 was released recently, and the Netscape Messaging Server 4.1 is slated for delivery in four to six weeks. Both will assume the iPlanet name and soon will be combined, also based mostly on the Netscape technology.

Netscape's ECExpert family of Internet-commerce applications, once a joint effort with GE Information Systems, will become iPlanet products as well.

Moreover, Netscape Directory Server will become iPlanet Directory Server, but it will include components from the Sun Directory Server, which is being phased out. The same is true of the Web servers; Netscape Web Server will become iPlanet, and it contains some Sun Web Server technology.

"All the product brands over the course of the next couple of releases -- but by the end of year -- will move to the iPlanet brand. In most cases, they will go there immediately," said Mark Tolliver, general manager of the Sun-Netscape Alliance, in Mountain View, Calif. "As we release new products, we'll adopt the iPlanet brand."

The Sun-Netscape Alliance, in Mountain View, can be reached at www.iplanet.com. Sun Microsystems Inc., in Palo Alto, Calif., can be reached at www.sun.com.

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