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Intel buys stake in Open Market

Open Market says Intel has purchased about 330,000 of the Internet commerce software provider's restricted common shares.

E-commerce software vendor Open Market said today that Intel has purchased about 330,000 of the Internet commerce software provider's restricted common shares.

A company spokeswoman declined to disclose what Intel paid for the shares. The company has about 32.1 million shares outstanding.

In addition, Open Market said it will make its Transact software available on Intel Pentium II-based servers running Windows NT, as well as on Intel's next-generation IA-64 processors.

Transact software includes buyer authentication, payment, order-processing, tax and shipment cost-calculation, buyer self-service, reporting, profiling, and analysis applications.

The two companies plan to optimize Open Market software for Intel Architecture servers, and to collaborate on joint marketing activities, Open Market said in a statement.

Zona Research analyst Vernon Keenan said Intel's move is reminiscent of its heavy investments in multimedia companies in an effort to boost the popularity of its Pentium processors in that space.

The decision to start investing in e-commerce came late last year, when Intel unveiled at the Fall Internet World 97 convention in New York an e-business strategy of funding, codeveloping, and marketing Internet applications in concert with other companies, showcasing new Internet advertising technology at a presentation with online ad agency Modem Media and four major advertisers.

But the chip giant's latest initiative goes well beyond Net advertising. It includes investments of cash, engineers, and/or marketing support in online sales and marketing projects, as well as in infrastructure applications such as Web browsers, "push" technology, and 3-D rendering.

Intel also has pursued Internet commerce publicly since August, when it unveiled its new e-commerce service firm, called Pandesic, a joint venture with German software company SAP.

Keenan said he doesn't see any market conflicts arising between Pandesic and Open Market because of Intel's investment in both. "Intel is huge enough that it can invest in plenty of technologies without," stepping on toes, he said.

Open Market's other products, which already run on Intel-based platforms, include LiveCommerce cataloging software and Folio information management software.

(Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)

Reuters contributed to this report.