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PointCast pushes its solution

Hoping to make its Net broadcast software as popular on corporate desktops as with home users, PointCast airs a new strategy for "pushing" information over the Internet and intranets.

    Hoping to make its Net broadcast software as popular on the corporate desktop as with home users, PointCast today aired a new strategy for "pushing" information over the Internet and intranets.

    PointCast announced its OneCast Solution, which includes a bundling arrangement with IBM subsidiary Lotus Development, as previously reported by CNET. The company also cut a deal with WavePhore that will beef up its menu of "channels" or categories of information that users can tune into over their networks.

    PointCast has pioneered what some observers have heralded as the next major development in online publishing, namely a way of distributing information such as news headlines and stock updates across the Internet by "pushing" data out to specialized software on users' desktops.

    Now Netscape Communications, Microsoft, and Marimba are all jockeying to provide their own tools for broadcasting data rather than requiring users to proactively visit Web sites for new information.

    But PointCast has a substantial lead in this area over other players and is now trying to establish a stronger footing in the corporate marketplace, where it hopes to make most of its money.

    By the first quarter of 1997, the company said today it will offer a new range of products and services aimed at businesses, including the awkwardly named Lotus Domino.Broadcast for PointCast. The product will include Lotus's Domino Web server and the PointCast I-Server, software that transmits custom information channels across a company's intranet.

    The move to integrate the PointCast I-Server with Lotus's Domino Web server was originally announced in July, though no release date was given at the time.

    Today, PointCast also announced Pro-Server, a new server product that will broadcast premium, subscription-based channels inside companies using information from WavePhore's list of more than 600 content partners.

    Additionally, the company also announced CommunityCast, a program that will allow information providers to form their own channels targeted at vertical markets such as health, government, and the real estate industry.

    Analysts think PointCast's partnership with Lotus and others will give the company a lead over competitors in the intranet market.

    "It will help PointCast target the intranet market," said Michael Sullivan-Trainor, director of the International Data Corporation's intranet program.

    Analysts have given high marks to PointCast's I-Server, which is sold as a standalone server for $995.

    "Companies will use personal broadcast networks to build their own private broadcast channels for widely dispersed employees," said John Robb, an analyst with Forrester Research. Robb said the announcement will likely be part of PointCast's strategy to enter into partnerships "with everybody that matters."