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IQ News: With 'Push' Buzz Quiet, PointCast Makes Changes

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A year ago, you couldn't throw a rock at spring Internet World without hitting someone selling push technology. But as the same industry trade show convenes this week, the buzz surrounding push has been dramatically, almost completely, silenced. So, what happens now to PointCast, last year's darling of the push category? David Dorman, chairman, president and chief executive officer, announced new strategies last week--and rather than associating the product with push, he offered a different spin.
"We're a smart agent on a PC that retrieves user-defined news and information," Dorman said. (PointCast is free, ad-supported software that users personalize to track online information.)
The new 2.5 version of PointCast allows companies to communicate with a large number of employees through multicasting and includes industry-specific news channels for healthcare, government and real estate. These changes reflect an expansion of its target audience to include corporations and more small- and home-office users. Dorman said talks were ongoing to examine a partnership with an ISP.
Anna Zornosa, senior vice president, sales and affiliate development, PointCast, added that the company, according to its own data, falls within the top 10 Internet media companies measured by advertising revenue. PointCast, which is privately held, did not provide actual figures; but sources estimated that for the month of January, the company earned $1.5 million in ad revenue. Currently, PointCast's audience numbers 1.3 million users, according to PCMeter.
Still, "that viewership number could have been more," Dorman said. "We relied on novelty to draw users for too long. We didn't spend enough time examining the user experience. PointCast didn't do a good job of explaining to its users environmentally what would happen using the service."
Joan-Carol Brigham, research manager at International Data Corp., said PointCast's biggest problem is not the push-is-dead scenario. "The primary inhibitor is that there's no really good filtering techniques out there yet," she said. "You're getting a step up in specificity, but it's still a lot of material to wade through."