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WavePhore hangs 10

The data broadcaster's stock rolls in with a big gain as it announces a new e-commerce initiative.

    Shares of WavePhore rocketed skyward today after the data broadcasting company announced the launch of a new "broadcast mall."

    The company's WaveTop Store electronic commerce channel will initially include nine merchants and will be accessible to consumers who have PC's equipped with a TV tuner or a TV tuner card in order to receive broadcast signals. The company said it is able to deliver content-rich transmissions without the bottleneck of lower-bandwidth Internet connections and without the need to tie up telephone lines.

    WavePhore stock climbed 96.77 percent or 7.5 points to 15.25. The company's shares have traded as high as 19.13 and as low as 3.25 during the past 52 weeks. With 24.8 million shares changing hands in afternoon trading, WavePhore is the most actively traded issue on the Nasdaq market.

    WavePhore said that consumers will now be able to take advantage of WaveTop's broadcast delivery of multimedia content to receive offers for merchandise and services. However, users will need to use their own Internet connections to place orders and to complete their transactions.

    The company said its technology allows advertisers to send more creative multimedia advertisements such as movie and video clips, games, and software downloads without the delays associated with modems.

    Among the vendors involved are bookseller barnesandnoble.com, Godiva, the chocolatier, and computer retailer CompUSA.

    "For our vendors, this channel represents a new way to merchandise their products without the limitations of slow connections or the costs of additional infrastructure," Thom Kozik, WavePhore's executive vice-president and general manager, said in a statement.

    "These agreements are not particularly significant in terms of revenue, but they are important in terms of getting into the e-commerce area," Joel Krasner, an analyst at First Albany, told Bloomberg. "These retailers can provide a lot more detailed and graphical product offerings than is available on the Internet."

    WaveTop is supported by consumer-brand charter advertisers. They include companies such as EMI Records, Hewlett Packard, and Nissan Motor Corp..

    Separately, the company announced an agreement with Wave Systems to utilize Wave Systems' Embassy E-Commerce content metering and payment system. The company said this agreement will enable the broadcast of pay-per-view, subscription and rental content such as games, information services and video services to WaveTop subscribers.

    Microsoft has accumulated a 2.88 percent stake in WavePhore. The software giant bought into its partner without the knowledge of WavePhore management. Microsoft bought 500,000 shares in November 1997, making the company, along with Intel which also owns 500,000 shares, the second-largest shareholder in WavePhore, said WavePhore's chief operating officer Glen Williamson earlier this year.

    WaveTop has been available in the Windows 98 operating system since its launch.