IBM partners on mobile e-commerce

IBM on Friday announced its intentions to form partnerships with eight Internet professional services companies as part of an effort to establish its software as a platform for delivery of mobile e-commerce solutions.

The eight Web companies comprising The Pervasive Computing Alliance include Agency.COM, Answerthink Consulting Group, Luminant Worldwide, Organic, R/GA, Rare Medium, Razorfish, and US Interactive.

These companies will work jointly with IBM to create content and services for wireless devices including cell phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), and other Web-enabled handheld devices.

Inspiration for forming the alliance stems from the expectation that in the next three or four years IBM thinks that more than 60 percent of all Web transactions will be triggered by wireless devices using the Web.

"These companies will have tremendous influence over which platforms businesses use to create content and services for these devices, and we're committed to provide them with the support they need to develop and deploy wireless solutions using IBM hardware and software," said Mark Hanny, vice president of IBM's Web Integrator Initiative in a prepared statement.

Under the agreement, IBM plans to invest in a number of support programs designed to meet the needs of each of the eight partners, which collectively last year generated more than $1 billion in revenue for consulting, Web design, and integration services.

For their part the eight companies promise to build a percentage of their wireless Web solutions around IBM's middleware products, such as MQSeries and CICS, which supply the links among a variety of different operating systems for the applications businesses use to run their companies.

Also as part of the alliance IBM will offer its WebSphere Everyplace Suite server-based software to these companies ahead of other customers. The partners will receive software training and will participate in joint marketing and development programs. WebSphere Everyplace Suite contains IBM's Transcoding Publisher, which is capable of translating Web-based data on the fly into the appropriate format that can be read from handheld devices. The suite also includes data synchronisation software that helps keep information up to date across multiple types of devices.

The suite also features IBM's Tivoli Subscription Manager, which lets businesses track and manage multiple handheld devices and supports wireless protocols such as WAP (Wireless Application Protocol).

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