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Value America goes wireless

Struggling after a six-month slump, the online retailer is following in the footsteps of other e-commerce companies and connecting customers via handheld devices.

Value America announced today that it is launching wireless services, the latest offering by the beleaguered online retailer of computers and consumer products.

The company, which has been in a six-month slump, is following in the footsteps of other online merchants who are signing deals with wireless service firms so customers can get online via handheld devices such as cell phones and pagers. Many e-commerce companies are positioning themselves to ride the wireless product wave should consumers embrace it as much as analysts predict they will.

Value America partnered with San Francisco-based MobileShift in exchange for MobileShift taking an undisclosed share of the revenues.

Value America, which has suffered through layoffs, an executive exodus, and a stock valuation that has continued to drop since December, was trading at $1.88 today. Its share price has been as low as $1.56 this year after trading at a high of $74.24 last spring following the company's initial public offering.

Last December, the Charlottesville, Va.-based company announced it was restructuring as the result of lower-than-expected earnings. Value America's trials seem to signal the downshift in stock valuations that business-to-consumer companies are now experiencing.