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Sun, Premiere in universal messaging pact

Sun Microsystems and Premiere Technologies ink a new business relationship to promote unified messaging services and Web-based communications.

Sun Microsystems and Premiere Technologies today said they are entering a new relationship to promote unified messaging services and Web-based communications.

In what is the first news to come out of the recently announced Sun-Netscape alliance, the Premiere deal will focus on the company's unified messaging technology, which lets users retrieve voice mail, email, and faxes via the Internet or telephone.

Sun has pegged all-in-one messaging for consumers, businesses, and service providers as a potentially lucrative market for its software and systems. The company already has work underway with telecom equipment giant Lucent Technologies in the same area.

"By working with industry leaders such as Sun to jointly market unified messaging solutions, we can begin to drive network-based standards for Web communications and can reinforce and grow Premiere's position in the market," Premiere chief executive Boland Jones said during a press conference.

Premiere's unified messaging services will now be powered by software from the Sun-Netscape alliance--including e-commerce infrastructure and messaging application software. also will rely on Sun hardware and professional services.

Sun and Premiere also have agreed to market unified messaging services under a joint marketing arrangement. Premiere's messaging technology creates a "universal in-box," allowing users to read and respond to all of their messages using either a PC or telephone.

Due to roll out by the fourth quarter, services will be available for a flat rate of $19.95.

Currently Premiere's communications services reach 45 cities around the world, serving more than 100 million people over standard telephone lines. Today's announcement with Sun will enable users to get the same service over the Internet through a Netscape browser.

"This is the next stage of the Internet," said John Mcfarland, president of Sun Solaris. "The rise of portals as aggregate sources of information will soon become messaging centers as well."

Unified messaging, estimated by Ovum Research to be a $31 billion business by 2006.

The software Premiere is purchasing will be part of the Sun-Netscape Alliance product portfolio. America Online and Sun formed the Sun-Netscape Alliance to provide e-commerce offerings to business partners and other companies.