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AltaVista targets B2B e-commerce with new unit

The new division will sell AltaVista search software to e-commerce firms, so that customers and partners can query information about inventory and product availability.

    AltaVista is planning to launch a new business unit to sell the company's search technology to business-to-business e-commerce firms.

    The company next week plans to announce the formation of AltaVista Business Solutions. The new division will sell AltaVista search software to e-commerce firms so customers and partners can query information about inventory and product availability, for example.

    "In the automotive market, a company could take all the information in their database and allow suppliers to search for specific parts and pricing information," said Rajiv Parikh, director of marketing for the new business division.

    AltaVista executives said the company plans to announce a number of deals in the business-to-business market for the new software in the next few weeks.

    AltaVista currently licenses its technology to e-commerce portals like online retailer Amazon.com. The new unit will sell a packaged product, priced starting at $5,000, specifically to business-to-business firms.

    Parikh said the company will also announce next week a partnership with brick-and-mortar book retailer Borders. AltaVista will set up kiosks in stores so customers can search for books or other items in stock. Borders also plans to use the search technology on its Borders.com Web site.

    Although next week's announcement doesn't include any new technology, company executives said a new product that combines both its Web searching technology--Search v2.3a, and back office database searching tool, SDK v2.6--will be rolled out by the end of this quarter. The new product is called Mercator.

    AltaVista, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is majority owned by Internet investment firm CMGI.