The market for ?push? applications on the Internet is set to increase from the current $10m in revenue to $5.7bn by the turn of the century, according to US research analysts Yankee Group.
In the wake of Pointcast?s runaway ?Web-casting? success, online software specialist Wayfarer has introduced a similar service aimed at corporate business users, which all-ows managers to push tailored business information directly to employee desktops. Like Pointcast, Incisa uses specialised server and client software to feed information via automatic PC broadcasts, supposedly saving employees the time-wasting task of pulling information from the Web.
But, unlike Pointcast, Incisa is free of advertising, horoscopes and other non-business content, focusing instead on topical business information from Reuters, PR Newswire, Infoseek and other news feeds.
Bob Schoettle, vice president of marketing at Wayfarer, said: ?Pointcast is really a consumer product. It has a lot of advertising. Incisa is really a business tool.?
Pointcast, meanwhile, has claimed its one-and-a-half millionth user, and Wayfarer has brought out a corporate version of its software, called Iserver, although the product still includes advertising channels. It will also be offering niche subscription services later in the year.
Push technology, in the form of personalised broadcasting, has become the latest must-have product for the Internet?s biggest players. Witness Microsoft?s plans for Active Desktop, and Netscape?s Constellation due for release in tandem with Internet Explorer 4.0 and Communicator later this year. Netscape?s technology supremo, Marc Andreessen, has already asserted that push technology is the next big thing: ?We?re not going to have a browser any more,? he said. ?We?re going to be running a kind of TV tuner.?
Last year, Microsoft thrashed out a deal with Pointcast to thoroughly integrate broadcast capabilities with Internet Explorer 4.0, scuppering Netscape?s own partnership plans with the Net broadcaster. But, since launching 12 months ago, Pointcast hasn?t had everything its own way. Concerns about it hogging system resources and lowering staff productivity have led many IT managers to remove it from company systems. And one senior executive at Bay Networks said that, although he likes Pointcast, ?it is spreading like a virus? in companies.
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