TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington's rumor that Netscape would be killed off has proven off the mark. Not because several Netscapers have surfaced to deny the rumors, but because you can't kill something that's already dead. There may be a community that, out of laziness or inertia, still visits its grave daily. But a society of denial-ridden necrophiliacs hardly makes for a compelling audience. When AOL purchased Netscape in 1998, it did everything imaginable to keep the brand alive — and everything imaginable to kill it. It forced the worst features of AOL onto Netscape and migrated the best features of Netscape to AOL — not that it helped either. And Jason Calacanis's brief tenure at AOL? That dirt-grubbing graverobber just made things worse, and then left for greener pastures.
Whether or not Calacanis's social news site dubbed "Netscape" remains — our sources say, "Yes!" — is immaterial. It is an also-ran. Everything under the "Netscape" name is a just a rebranded testbed for AOL's weaker Web offerings. Despite the warm assurances of current "Netscape" leader Tom Drapeau, AOL's attempt to revive a Netscape portal a year after doing away with it reveals either significant problems with the social-news strategy or continued management dithering.
"Netscape" may continue as a poor man's Digg, a poorer imitation of AOL's poor imitation of Yahoo, or some grotesque combination of the two. But whatever it is, let's face it: It's increasingly irrelevant. Has the Facebook generation, after all, even used a browser called "Netscape"? Use AOL Labs as the sandbox for new technology, redirect Netscape's remaining traffic to AOL.com, and let the brand — beloved browser maker, implacable foe of Microsoft, and fiery dragon of Web 1.0 — rest in piece.