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Pitney delivers documents online

Postage meter giant Pitney Bowes is jumping into the business of secure online document delivery, entering a market already targeted by UPS.

    Postage meter giant Pitney Bowes is jumping into the business of secure online document delivery, entering a market already targeted by United Parcel Service.

    For Pitney, its new iSend service represents a further push into delivering services over the Internet, following last week's announcement that it will license its patents for online postage meters.

    Both Pitney and UPS, which announced its UPS Document Exchange in March, are using Posta technology from Tumbleweed Software.

    "UPS is moving from ground delivery to the Internet, and Pitney Bowes is moving from the mail room to the Internet," said Jeffery Smith, Tumbleweed's president.

    Secure online delivery of documents is meant to supplement regular email--and to provide a cheaper alternative to overnight services like FedEx or local courier services. UPS's service, launched June 15, charges $1 to $7 to deliver an electronic document in North America, with volume discounts. Pitney Bowes did not release its pricing.

    Start-up NetDox is another player in the online document delivery business. NetDox, partially owned by accounting firm Deloitte & Touche, also licensed its technology to UPS, and NetDox is seeking other resellers in vertical industries.

    Pitney Bowes, with $4.1 billion in revenues, owns nearly 80 percent of the market for postage meters, but that business could be threatened by online delivery. The company also staffs mailrooms for customers, dispatching documents for ground delivery.

    "With this deal, Pitney will allow those staff members to send documents electronically instead of via ground delivery," Smith said.

    Last week Tumbleweed announced that Nippon Telegraph and Telephone is supporting its Posta technology. Tumble is creating a Japanese version of the technology and already has a partnership with systems integrator Canon Sales.

    UPS predicts that by 2002, a third of all urgent document deliveries will be made electronically, an estimated $11.2 billion of the market.