Yahoo last week started offering some of its registered members a bundle of services it calls "Yahoo Plus." Participants in the trial get extras that normally come with Yahoo's digital-subscriber-line Internet access, only without the broadband connection and at a lower cost -- $9.95 a month.
Yahoo Plus subscribers get 25 megabytes of e-mail storage, 50 megabytes of data storage, spam filtering, virus protection, firewall security, parental controls and their choice of two other Yahoo services that would otherwise cost extra, such as auctions, games or deluxe online bill payment. It's the first time Yahoo has rolled out a "bring your own access" suite of Web services comparable to what AOL and MSN offer.
"The research is focused on several factors -- what type of creative material people respond to, which type of services resonate best with users and at what price point," said Yahoo spokeswoman Diana Lee. "You can look forward to seeing bundling and other premium products from us down the line this year."
Until the site rolls out Yahoo Plus, people can read its terms of service (help.yahoo.com/help/us/plus) but can't sign up without an invitation.
Deal of the Week: Credit for Clothes
Amazon.com is offering a $30 credit to folks who buy $50 worth of clothes through its new apparel section. The Seattle-based retailer brought hundreds of clothing retailers onto its site for the project, which went live two weeks ago. Amazon shares revenue with the retailers, including familiar names such as Nordstrom, Old Navy and Lands' End.
Amazon also said this week that it expanded its magazine and newspaper section to include 50,000 periodicals, with thousands more planned. The hard-to-find title area makes for curious browsing, with Psycho magazine listed alongside Dreams of Decadence, Hairdo Ideas and the Journal of Investment Consulting.
More Games Go Online
Online gaming company MindQuest Entertainment last week kicked off a subscription-based mystery game called TerraQuest. Players compete through six monthly installments to solve a mystery and win a jackpot that starts at $250,000 and grows as more players ante up the $25 game fee. Its Henderson, Nev., creator describes TerraQuest as "part mystery, part scavenger hunt, and part spy drama."
Another gaming site, AtomShockwave.com, has started offering a $9.95-a-month GameBlast service, which includes access to 32 premium games, 50 jigsaw puzzles and a variety of new releases.
A Souped-Up Smithsonian Store
The Smithsonian Institution has overhauled its Web store and now offers over 500 items for sale, mostly reproductions of its museum artifacts and exhibits. New sections include a "Smithsonian Treasures" area with such site exclusives as a George Washington wine coaster. Gift buyers may enjoy the new best-seller section, showcasing the likes of a Tiffany dragonfly umbrella, Renoir bath soaps, scales-of-justice bookends and a Spirit of St. Louis glider.
E-mail Leslie Walker at email@example.com.