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Intel drops iCat e-commerce software

The chipmaker is exiting the e-commerce software market, shutting part of the business it acquired last year with iCat.

Intel is exiting the e-commerce software market, shutting part of the business it acquired last year with iCat.

But Intel said it will continue iCat's storefront hosting operation, iCat Online.

"We identified that developing shrink-wrapped tools was redundant with other industry efforts," said Intel spokesman Adam Grossberg. "There are more advantages to focus on iCat Online, and this will have no impact on that iCat division."

Existing users of iCat's e-commerce suite will be supported for 90 days. Intel said it will work with individual merchants and Web developers who use iCat tools to move to other products or to continue using iCat's, but without technical support after three months.

The 20 to 30 employees in the iCat software business will be offered jobs within Intel, either in the iCat Online group or in a new division that will do Web hosting and Internet data services.

"Intel and iCat decided that commerce services is a place we want to put a laser focus on to get small businesses online," Grossberg said. Intel had said little about its plans for the e-commerce tools after acquiring iCat in December.

Intel has decided to leave that crowded market to publicly traded rivals such Microsoft, IBM, Intershop, Open Market, and BroadVision. A host of smaller firms, including Breakthrough and Mercantec, have similar tools.

Intel owns a small piece of Open Market, but Grossberg said his company will not direct its iCat software customers to any specific alternative vendor.

The decision to shutter iCat's software side comes as Intel is evolving its Internet commerce strategy; iCat had been the biggest question mark in that strategy.

Last month Intel split iCat in two and outlined plans for iCat Online, supplemented recently with the news that iCat would serve as an outsourcer for ISPs, banks, and phone companies that want to offer storefront hosting.

Intel's other e-commerce thrust is a shopping service with Excite, due to be unveiled next month. It also has a joint venture with software giant SAP called Pandesic, an outsourcing service for start-up e-tailers.