In its ongoing quest to turn workplace users into business users, Yahoo! (YHOO) on Tuesday launched marketplaces targeted at people involved in three technology industries.

The move is another example of how Yahoo!, facing weakness in the advertising business that accounts for a majority of its revenue, is seeking growth in business services -- an area that has proven to be challenging, to say the least, for other companies. It also comes a week after Yahoo! announced new customers for its

Corporate Yahoo! portal service.

On Tuesday, Yahoo!'s stock rose 81 cents to $27.38.

As part of the

Yahoo! Industry Marketplaces

announced Tuesday, the company debuted three areas -- electronics, information technology software and information technology hardware -- that make the new marketplaces section what Yahoo! calls "a one-stop business-to-business destination" for product research, industry news and purchasing decisions.

Each marketplace includes industry-specific information and services, product databases, industry news and a rich-media Webcast center.

Shannon Ledger, general manager, production, for Yahoo!, says the Industry Marketplaces effort is just one in a series of products that Yahoo! makes available to businesses. Others include

Yahoo! Store


Yahoo! Auctions

and the B2B directories Yahoo! already has in place. "This is really a continuation of our strategy to offer a suite of services to the business market," Ledger says.

Yet to outsiders, the technology-focused, industry-specific marketplaces appear to have plenty of challenges. For starters, Yahoo! seems to be taking on an area already dominated by


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, parent of the




information technology sites. In addition, by setting up a series of industry-focused sites -- verticals, as they're sometimes known -- Yahoo! is entering a business



is de-emphasizing as it shifts toward a software-sales model.

Kimberly Knickle, research director at

AMR Research

, says the new sites might appeal to occasional information-technology buyers with small budgets, but not to more sophisticated customers spending, say, $100,000 on IT a year. "This is not going to be earth-shattering to


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having its own marketplace," she says. "It's not going to bring it down."

Ledger insists there's demand for the marketplaces among Yahoo!'s users: The launch, she says, is an extension of the strategy that Yahoo has long employed: "We pay attention to what our users are looking for," she says, and the information in the new marketplaces is high on the list of what people are searching for throughout Yahoo!.

In addition, it appears that Yahoo!, in contrast to VerticalNet, won't try to set up independent editorial operations to anchor each industry-specific site. "We're an aggregator," Ledger says, pointing out that in past ventures, Yahoo! has started with directories, then built on them with news, information, communications tools, then commerce. "We're really just following that path with these three industries."