CDC director endorses Pfizer booster for frontline workers iPhone 13 is on sale: Best deals China: All cryptocurrency transactions illegal Elon Musk and Grimes 'semi-separated' PS5 restock tracker Google Doodle honors Christopher Reeve

PointCast updates push

PointCast announces the key components of upgrades to its software, which "pushes" information to users' desktops.

PointCast today announced the key components of upgrades to its software, which "pushes" information to users' desktops. The upgrades range from supporting multicasting to reducing bandwidth clogs and further personalization of the service.

PointCast chief executive David Dorman discussed PointCast's strategy and his vision of the "push" industry during a conference call today, noting that in addition to going after the corporate market the company will also look at working with Internet service providers to use its service and also is planning on hosting content on its Web site over the next year.

Meanwhile, Dorman's presentation comes as "push" has been under fire.

"A year ago, everyone wanted to be associated with the category of push," Dorman said. "Today, no one wants to be associated with push?I just want to set the record straight. Push is not dead."

Under PointCast 2.5, which will be available in April, corporate users will find support for multicasting, broadcasting data across internal corporate networks and the public Internet.

One feature of PointCast 2.5 will include company alerts that appear as a special pop-up window on employees' desktops, faster updates of time-sensitive data such as stock quotes, and the ability to send information over the network to the employee who requested it as well as routing it to others at the same time.

A second feature of the upgrade will include the ability to take registration information such as geographic location, job function, and industry, and then set automatic default channels based on that personal information about the user.

These default channels will pull from the company's recent addition of ten vertical industry editions, such as legal, banking, and telecommunications. These editions each offer two to three channels per market.

Users, however, will still be able to opt out or select other channels, Dorman noted.

PointCast, which launched its service in February 1996, has 1.3 million active users. Analysts have said the company's growth has been slow, citing a need for the "push" pioneer to offer compelling content and reduce network congestion.

Dorman said the company also plans to spur its subscriber growth by working with Internet service providers to improve bandwidth problems.

Customers using an ISP dial-up service, rather than accessing the information over a speedy corporate local area network, would find their information moving at a much slower rate when using PointCast.

But as it has done with corporations, PointCast is looking at offering ISPs caching servers at their sites, which reduce bandwidth problems and speed information delivery.

PointCast also currently offers an Internet button on the channel viewer that takes users to a PointCast-hosted Web site called EntryPoint. The site, launched in December, acts as a default page when users click on the Internet icon and takes them to the business service center that offers transactions such as booking travel arrangements and package tracking.

"The next step would be to host Web content, as well as mirroring your personal PointCast news and information," Dorman said. He added that he would include this feature in PointCast's 3.0 client, which is expected to be released at year's end.

This will take users clicking on headlines and seeking related information to other PointCast Web sites that house that content. One site may serve as a business trading center, for example, and will be used as an adjunct to PointCast's news and information community, Dorman said.

He added that these PointCast sites will serve as a way to reduce the need for users to go to the Web and then be directed to non-PointCast sites for additional content. And it will offer the company an additional source of advertising revenue through sponsorships.