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PointCast takes Notes

Lotus and PointCast plan a personal broadcast network tool to transmit information from Notes databases to corporate desktops.

Lotus Development (IBM) and PointCast tomorrow will announce plans for a personal broadcast network tool to transmit information from Notes databases to the desktops of users on corporate intranets.

The move to integrate the PointCast I-Server with Lotus Notes' Domino Web server was announced in July. The integrated bundle may be out before the end of the year, sources close to the company said.

The I-Server technology will be sold in a bundle with Notes 4.5 before year's end. The move is designed to strengthen both companies' bids to counter Netscape Communications and Microsoft, which have moved aggressively into the groupware and personalized news service markets this year and promise to lure corporate clients with integrated suites of tools for a variety of uses.

PointCast, which is also selling its client-server intranet I-Server separately for $995, may have the most to gain, analysts said. The announcement is one of a series that PointCast is expected to make this week as it trues to position itself in the increasingly crowded market for personal broadcast networks.

"It will help PointCast target the intranet market," said Michael Sullivan-Trainor, director of the International Data Corporation's intranet program. Teaming up with the groupware market leader "offers a good leverage point for PointCast," he said.

Analysts have given high marks to the I-Server, which may be used to deliver "up-to-the-minute" company news and Web-based information directly to users desktops. It can be displayed as a screen saver that changes as new information arrives and sorts it to make priority items easier to notice.

"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 tomorrow's announcement will likely be part of PointCast's strategy to enter into partnerships "with everybody that matters."