EN GARDE: AMERICA ONLINE IS READY TO GO HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH HIGH-FLYING YAHOO! and Excite in the Internet "portals" business. In September, the online giant will turn its recently acquired ICQ instant-messaging service into an Internet portal similar to those run by the Internet search and directory companies--by adding content and search features to its chat service. With seven million active users, ICQ (short for "I seek you") is quickly gaining ground among the young and tech-savvy, as opposed to AOL's more mainstream members. ICQ will retain its brand to keep attracting those users. Eventually, AOL wants to market Internet telephony and videoconferencing to them, but for now will refrain from overcommercializing ICQ with ads and E-commerce deals.
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