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Compaq revamps e-commerce strategy

The PC maker unveils the products and partnerships that will be central to its Internet strategy and its efforts to revitalize the company.

Following the recent enunciation of its e-commerce strategy, Compaq today unveiled the products that will be central to that strategy and to efforts to revitalize the company.

Compaq Computer said it has partnered with a variety of companies to provide software, development tools, and services for building e-commerce applications and Web sites as a part of its NonStop e-business initiative.

Compaq is banking on the growth in commerce being conducted over the Internet to resuscitate its fortunes. International Data Corporation pegs the amount of business conducted electronically to be $1.3 trillion by 2003. With such large amounts of business being done electronically, Compaq thinks companies will need to rely on computer systems that almost never crash and that can handle high workloads.

The company announced a new high-end server called the Himalaya S72000 that is 30 percent faster than previous models, while priced the same as the older model. Compaq also announced partnerships with companies that supply software which enables the development of applications that can access data stored by these servers, either in conjunction with the use of Windows NT servers, or directly from a standard Web browser. Some of the development tools can be used to modify existing applications to "Web-enable" a Himalaya server, instead of requiring new programming to be done, Compaq said.

The focus on e-commerce comes too late for former Compaq chief executive Eckhard Pfeiffer, who was ousted less than a week after announcing the strategy.

Compaq is largely seen by industry analysts as failing to realize synergies from its various acquisitions such as Tandem in 1997 and Digital in 1998. The company has not yet been able to position itself as a provider of hardware and services for the Internet economy, compared to competitors IBM and Sun Microsystems.

However late in coming, marketing its well-regarded Himalaya servers as Internet ready could be a strategy that will finally provide some much-needed income in more profitable areas than the cutthroat desktop computer market where Compaq has been hurting.