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Wayfarer goes after PointCast

Wayfarer introduces a software package and information service, called Incisa, focused squarely on the business market.

While PointCast broadcasts a hodge-podge of horoscopes, sports scores, and advertisements to users' desktops, Wayfarer Communications says it means business.

Today, Wayfarer introduced a software package and information service, called Incisa, focused squarely on the business market. As previously reported by CNET, the service leaves out the distracting ads that are beamed to users' desktops through the PointCast Network.

Like PointCast, Incisa, formerly code-named Magnets, "pushes"--or automatically broadcasts--information to PCs through specialized server and client software. Both technologies provide a way to catch a user's eye with a news story, sports score, or animation without requiring them to trek out to a Web site.

But while PointCast has based most of its business on aggregating information providers into advertising-supported "channels," Wayfarer says it will aim its software and information services at companies that don't want their employees to be blitzed by ads all day. PointCast also sells a corporate version of its software, called IServer, but that product still includes channels with ads.

"The biggest difference is that PointCast is really a consumer product," said Bob Schoettle, vice president of marketing at Wayfarer. "[Incisa] is really a business product. PointCast is a nice product, but it has a lot of advertising and no business content."

But Magnets' lineup of information sources, though ad-free, is anemic compared with the channels available on the PointCast Network. Wayfarer will initially provide news and product information from Reuters, PR Newswire, InfoSeek, Lotus, PC Quote, and Sqribe Technologies.

Incisa, which includes a client, server, and authoring tool, will also give companies a greater degree of control over custom information broadcasts than PointCast's IServer, Schoettle said. A feature called Incisa DataBridge lets companies broadcast information from corporate databases such as LotusNotes.

Analysts say Wayfarer's solution may be more appealing to a businesses than PointCast.

"PointCast is taking a consumer technology and adapting it, almost under duress, for the corporate marketplace," said Ira Machevsky, a senior industry analyst at Giga Information Group. "They're shoving indiscriminate information at desktops and saying you can have one channel to yourself."

Incisa is available from Wayfarer and sells for $5,000 for 100 seats.