AOL exec: Netscape browser died before AOL sale

Barry Schuler, president of America Online's (AOL) interactive services, told lawyers during his deposition for the Microsoft antitrust case that Netscape's browser was "decimated" before AOL decided to buy Netscape and that the sale went through so that AOL could take advantage of Netscape's Web site business. Schuler says that Netscape's only viable business was as a Web portal.

"I was relatively lukewarm about the idea \[of AOL buying Netscape\]," said Schuler. "I felt the browser part of their business was dead."

Regardless, the online giant eventually shelled out over $9 billion for the faltering start-up that had once dominated the browser market. Microsoft has been trying to prove that executives from AOL and Netscape knew of the deal before testifying against Microsoft at the trial and that they deliberately put off the deal so that their testimonies as Microsoft victims would carry more weight. Analysts believe that the combined Netscape/AOL proves Microsoft's assertion that competition is alive and well in the computer industry

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