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Tech Industry

TechWave opens online store network

TechWave today unveiled an online network of stores using its software to sell 14,000 software products online.

    Online software store TechWave today unveiled the first affiliates in its network of Internet storefronts that uses TechWave's infrastructure to sell software on the Net.

    The nascent online distribution network has two product lines: end-user software, based on TechWave's flagship BuySoftware.com store; and online training, based on TechWave's TheLearningCenter.com. BuySoftware was launched last month, TheLearningCenter in May.

    Network affiliates open stores on their Web sites that use TechWave's software, back-end processing, and inventory. Stores carry the affiliate's brand, with revenue split between TechWave and the affiliate. Affiliates can carry their own products, incorporate products from TechWave's stores, and offer products from other affiliates.

    "We have 10,000 training titles in the store," said Anne-Marie Savage, TechWave's vice president of online stores. "Although margins on software are virtually nil, margins on learning products are tremendous. We are merchandising and cross-selling, so if someone buys Microsoft Word, then we ask if he or she wants to buy Word training software, too."

    TechWave is taking a slightly different approach from other vendors selling software online. It competes with other online software stores, but its closest competitors are setting up multisite distribution networks, too.

    Those rivals include CyberSource, which runs the back-end operations for software publishers that set up stores on their own sites; Softbank Net Solutions, which is setting up a similar distribution network called Rights Exchange; and InterTrust Technologies, which licenses its basic technology for online software distribution.

    TechWave's initial partners include ISP EarthLink Network, computer reseller Bertke Computers, systems integrator Cyber Enterprises, discount wholesaler Discount-Mart.com, and education publisher UOL Publishing. TechWave also is targeting content providers, multimedia producers, and value-added resellers (VARs) as network affiliates.

    By building a network of affiliates--"100 stores in 100 days" is Savage's goal--TechWave aims to make itself attractive to software publishers as a distribution channel.

    Today's catalog lists some 14,000 products, 100 for online download and the rest in physical packaging. Software includes entertainment titles, online software training, home and office products, and Internet, personal, and workplace productivity software.

    Companies can put their products on TechWave's Electronic Commerce Distribution Network through electronic software for $495 for a single product or $250 per product for five or more.

    TechWave's turnkey service offers straight purchases or try-before-you-buy sales that let customers sample full-featured software products prior to purchase. Its patent-pending software includes secure wrappers for sending code over the Net, links to payment processors and license clearinghouses, and transaction processing.