Netscape has partnered with Verity to embed the latter's Search '97 utilities into its SuiteSpot server range, prompting speculation that Netscape will buy the search tool vendor.
Under the agreement, Netscape will build Verity's search tools into Netscape Enterprise and Catalogue Servers, as well as into its Collabra Server range and the Netscape Publishing System. The tools will be accessed through a Verity button built into the Netscape interface.
The deal is an expansion on an existing agreement with Verity, under which the company licensed older Verity products such as the Topic Internet Server. It has led to speculation of a merger between the two companies.
"I think it's quite likely that Netscape will buy Verity," said John Snidowski, an analyst at Bloor Research. "Netscape needs to swallow some more companies to survive, and Verity is a very good buy."
Netscape and Verity would neither confirm nor deny the claim.
"Maybe Netscape will buy us," speculated Verity's director of business alliances Chris Vallender. "But we are very self-sufficient and supply software to Netscape's competitors, so it might not have a good impact on the market."
The tools to be integrated into Netscape products under last week's deal are limited versions of the Verity Search '97 software. Users will pay no more for the Verity capabilities, which will be available in forthcoming versions of SuiteSpot.
Verity hopes to be able to sell Netscape users upgrades to those tools, offering increased searching functionality such as clustering and summarisation of results.
"Verity's search software is leading-edge technology and provides a very good means for SuiteSpot users to find information on groupware, Email or the web," said Sam Sethi, product marketing manager at Netscape UK.
"Until now, users only had individual product search engines for this - now there is one, united service," he added.
"Netscape can offer the best-of-breed to its customers, which is good for users," said Verity's Vallender. "It offers users the ability to conduct enterprise-wide searches and information mining."
The deal with Netscape is similar to an existing one between Verity and Lotus, under which Verity search tools are built into the Notes groupware package.
However, no agreement has yet been made with Lotus to upgrade that licence to the Search '97 suite of tools.
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