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PointCast Inc’s Network news service has supplanted InfoSage as IBM Corp’s Net-based consumer and low-end news and information offering. This became apparent yesterday when Lotus struck a joint development deal with PointCast to produce an application to deliver both external news and internal communications to subscribers over the Internet and Intranets. IBM is going to turn its five-month-old InfoSage service into a business-oriented information service which can broadcast internal company messages and data to employees and authorized subscribers, along with general news and information services. This intra-company news broadcast feature is currently missing from InfoSage, which gives subscribers access to 2,500 publications and newsletters for $25 per month plus a fee for accessing certain journals (CI No 2,856). The trouble is that users have largely bypassed InfoSage in their stampede toward free Net-based news services; IBM won’t reveal just how many InfoSage subscribers it has for the service, which was plagued with start-up problems.

The InfoSage group and Lotus/PointCast teams met Tuesday for the first time to map out a strategy for both product lines. IBM, which anticipates a $30bn corporate market for information services and subscriptions, believes there’s room for both the upcoming PointCast/Lotus application, code-named Indigo, and its re-positioned InfoSage news service. Indigo will fall under IBM’s NetApps line and allow Notes users to receive news broadcasts from the Internet and Intranets using Lotus’ Domino server and PointCast’s I-Server technologies (CI No 2,962). Meantime, IBM will next year allow InfoSage to broadcast a company’s internal documents to employees using PointCast’s I-Server or by a server it may develop itself. The InfoSage product will take the technology to a new level, claims IBM’s VP and director of electronic content services Joe Damassa . A sales force representative would be able to see the latest news from external sources concerning a customer but also receive information from the firm’s corporate jewels – its master records database and so on. IBM is already in the process of enhancing InfoSage. Within two weeks, it says it will have improved InfoSage’s article delivery mechanism by allowing users to edit their profiles on a Web-based screen, speeding the registration process. IBM also plans a Java version of InfoSage before year end and will develop an InfoSage front-end for use over its CICS OLTP monitor. Damassa said InfoSage has a richer, deeper content and a more sophisticated level of profiling. He added that InfoSage allows more specific and detailed searches and retrievals than PointCast. But Paul Coyne, development manager for Lotus Internet applications group, said that partnering with the popular, free PointCast service is a way to make it clear that NetApps and Lotus can play in the edge areas of what’s happening on the Web. Lotus is yet to reveal how it’ll sell Indigo and whether Lotus or PointCast – or both – will own it.

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CBR Staff Writer

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