"We knew the browser market share was likely to decline," Case said. "To the extent the decline occurred on our watch it might bother us. We wanted the focus on the portal and e-commerce." The AOL-Netscape deal has emerged as a central element in Microsoft's contention that there's plenty of competition in the software and Internet businesses. Microsoft has argued that AOL's purchase of Netscape renders the antitrust trial irrelevant. But Friday Case also testified that he did not tell the government in advance about his plans to acquire Netscape, and, under repeated questioning from Microsoft, agreed that a Washington Post article that had piqued the trial judge's interest was accurate in reporting that Case thought it foolish to compete directly with Microsoft. MORE >>
Like the on-off flicker of the house lights that signals the end of a play's intermission, the deposition Friday of America Online head Steve Case was a reminder that there's plenty more left to the Microsoft antitrust trial. With the courtroom drama set to resume June 1 after a three-month recess, Case testified Friday that his company's $10 billion purchase of Netscape had little to do with Netscape's web-browsing software.