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Three chat software firms team up

Electronic Communities, the Palace, and OnLive Technologies merge to focus on the corporate market.

    Internet chat software developers Electronic Communities, the Palace, and OnLive Technologies have merged to focus on the corporate market, the companies said today.

    Financial terms of the deal were not released. The new company, to be called OnLive, counts corporations such as Action Technologies, Cutler Hammer, and Dialogic Communications among its customers.

    Once primarily focused on products for consumers, the companies increasingly have gone after the corporate market by merging audio and video services, as well as other advanced features.

    "The migration to corporate applications had a lot to do with corporations moving in and looking for these capabilities," said Bryan Kerr, OnLive's vice president of sales and marketing. "Some of these technologies are pretty advanced, so there was a need to deal with a [single] environment where the technology could be adopted."

    The merger is the amalgamation of specialties particular to each of the three companies. OnLive's software allows people in different parts of the world to engage in one-on-one and group conferences that are either text- or voice-based. The Palace makes tools for Web developers who wish to add graphical elements to real-time chat sites. Electronic Communities specializes in security, user identity, and other technical details required for wide-scale conferencing networks.

    Kerr described it as "a strength-in-numbers" merger, adding that, for years, the companies have served many of the same customers.

    The move to focus on corporate customers comes as chat services on Internet giants such as America Online, Yahoo, and Excite have become standard fare.

    Despite the new focus, the merged company will face stiff competition. IBM's Lotus Development recently acquired online conferencing firms DataBeam and Ubique, while Microsoft has teamed up with Flash Communication.