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New HP e-commerce plan coming

Hewlett-Packard is slated to unveil new hardware servers running its brand of Unix that are bundled with e-commerce software and targeted to ISPs.

In a major e-commerce announcement, Hewlett-Packard on Monday is slated to unveil new hardware servers running HP's brand of Unix that are bundled with e-commerce software and targeted to the ISP market.

The announcement of Domain Commerce reflects a new version of HP's Internet commerce strategy as the company tries to rally its numerous divisions around its "extended enterprise" vision.

Monday's news will include alliances with e-commerce software vendors iCat, Intershop, Open Market, and BroadVision, according to analysts familiar with HP's plans.

An HP spokeswoman declined to comment except to confirm a "major e-commerce announcement" Monday in San Francisco that will include technologies HP has not previously discussed.

HP also is expected to discuss its plans to provide Web quality-of-service technology as part of an alliance with a major networking firm, believed to be Cisco Systems.

HP's payment division, VeriFone, is slated to announce that its VeriSmart smart card system will allow service providers to give consumers access to smart card applications over the Internet. Chia Hsin, a Taiwanese smart card provider, is using the system for financial institutions.

An ISP-oriented e-commerce bundle would make sense, Patricia Seybold Group analyst David Marshak said, particularly for mid-sized and smaller ISPs hungry to get into e-commerce hosting.

Not everyone was so positive, however.

"HP's announcements to date with other e-commerce companies have been pretty underwhelming," said Chris Stevens, e-commerce analyst at Aberdeen Group. He acknowledged that HP's Internet payment strategy has been clear since it bought VeriFone last year.

HP's past deals have been designed to sell hardware and to hedge the computer giant's bets in e-commerce by offering comarketing support to e-commerce software vendors, Stevens contended. But HP has never integrated e-commerce software with its hardware, he added.

HP also has been working with e-commerce software vendor Interworld, analysts said, but it may not be part of Monday's announcement because porting that software to HP-UX is not complete.

ISPs are drawing increasing attention from technology vendors. Last week Microsoft unveiled new software for ISPs that runs on its Windows NT operating system.

Open Market has concentrated on selling to ISPs and hosting companies as well, and ISPs have been important resellers for both Intershop and iCat.