IBM has hooked up with seven other industry giants to set up a business-to-business online market for the computer, electronics and telecoms sectors.
IBM, Hitachi, Toshiba, Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co (Panasonic), LG Electronics, Nortel Networks, Seagate Technologies and Solectron will together invest $125m (£83m) in E2open.com. The site is expected to be operational next month, using infrastructure from technology partners Ariba, IBM and i2.
The move is the latest in a series of similar ventures being created in diverse industries to allow the buying and selling of products and services online. The aim is to improve competition and reduce supply-chain costs.
PC vendors Hewlett-Packard and Compaq both established a hardware components portal last month in order to increase supply-chain efficiency (CRN, 17 May).
IBM claimed the network will shift about $700bn in goods and services.
E2open.com will include existing exchanges such as TradeMatrix, a services exchange; Component Knowledge, an information exchange for manufacturing representatives; and Virtual Component Exchange, which buys and sells semiconductor intellectual property.
Industry analyst Zona Research applauded the site's quick roll-out plans: "With transaction values more than double that of the next closest nexus site, this venture should give E2open.com considerable credibility and clout and staying power right from the start."
However, the company pointed out that the US government is considering whether such exchanges need to be monitored for fear of monopolistic tendencies.
Overall, Zona said E2open.com should succeed because the companies involved are all heavy-hitters. Most have already worked together as partners and the technology is fast approaching the equivalent of off-the-shelf, plug-and-play status.
Forrester Research, another industry analyst, praised the partnership's inclusion of Asian companies, because the region is expected to be the second-largest Internet economy by 2004.
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