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BackWeb, AirMedia push together

"Partner or perish" is shaping up to be the new mantra of the push technology industry.

New York--"Partner or perish" is shaping up to be the new mantra of the push technology industry.

Today, two smaller push players, AirMedia and BackWeb, announced that they are teaming up so that BackWeb users will be able to receive wireless notification of news headlines and corporate information over the AirMedia network. The two companies will jointly market their combined products, though they haven't set a date by which they'll offer them as a single package.

The cooperation between AirMedia and BackWeb is indicative of the coupling going on among push technology companies, which, until recently, has been an every-man-for-himself industry without a common set of standards. That lack of standards threatened to impede the growth of push by requiring a publisher to create separate information channels for each individual technology.

Last April though, AirMedia, BackWeb, Microsoft, and the leading push company, PointCast, jointly introduced a technology called channel definition format (CDF) that is intended to allow publishers to broadcast data to a wider variety of push technologies, irrespective of the company that makes the push client software.

But the growing resolve of the two major browser vendors, Microsoft and Netscape Communications, to become leaders in the push technology space is leading to even closer partnerships among smaller companies.

"The relationship with BackWeb is very significant to AirMedia," said Vance Schmitz, director of new business development at AirMedia. "While we have in the past been viewed as a competitor in the push market space, this announcement and our recent agreement to work with Microsoft and Internet Explorer 4.0 demonstrates that we are in fact a partner, not a competitor."

Under the agreement between the two companies, BackWeb customers will be able to use AirMedia Internet Antennas to receive wireless broadcasts from the AirMedia Live Internet Broadcast Network. The wireless network does not support two-way communications so if customers want more information on a news story they must connect to the Internet through a modem or dedicated connection.

Still, the integration between their two products means "disconnected" BackWeb users will be able to get more timely access to information even though they aren't already surfing the Net.