eTour.com, eMachines Partner in “Desktop Portal” Deal

eTour.com, a company that takes visitors on guided “tours” of the Web, is tapping eMachines Inc. to drive traffic to its site, in a deal that would put a Web surfing button on eMachines’ personal computers.

The agreement, financial terms of which were not disclosed, makes eTour the exclusive tenant on the “Surf” key on the company’s “eBoard” Internet keyboards. Current eTour members who press the button will be linked to their personalized surfing area at the site, while non-members will be sent to a registration page.

Keyboard buttons, like those eMachines is providing, appear to be gaining ground as the latest version of a portal — a desktop portal. Rather than providing links on a site, companies are offering buttons on a keyboard. Start-up RocketBoard is basing its business model on the idea, and has struck a deal with America Online to place the ISP on its board. The idea is thought to be especially effective in reaching people new to the Internet, in that buttons make navigating the Web more simple for those overwhelmed by the choices.

“With the proliferation of Web sites nearing 40 million, the sheer volume of choice is overwhelming, especially for our first-time PC consumers who are new to the Internet,” said Stephen Dukker, president and chief executive officer of eMachines, Inc.

Adds Roger Barnette, chief executive officer of eTour.com, “eMachines’ customers are an ideal match for eTour — their users are looking for a fast and easy way to access the Internet, and we provide a fast, easy and personal way to explore the Internet.”

The keyboards will be sold, along with PCs, beginning in mid-summer.

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