December 12, 1996 11:00 AM ET
Domino lines up for E-commerce
By Paula Rooney

  NEW YORK--Lotus Development Corp. will officially enter the electronic commerce arena next quarter with a merchant application for Domino priced at $1,295.

Domino.Merchant, which will run atop Lotus' World Wide Web version of its Notes server, allows users to design electronic commerce applications with support for CyberCash, enabling secure credit card transactions, officials announced here Wednesday at Internet World.

When bundled with the Domino server, the application will be offered for $1,995.

Lotus this month will begin beta testing Domino.Merchant.

The application also will support the MasterCard/Visa Secure Electronic Transaction protocol through integration with IBM's Net.Commerce system in the first half of 1997.

The Cambridge, Mass., subsidiary of IBM will offer separate tools such as NotesPump and NotesSQL to allow users to integrate relational data into Merchant applications.

Competitors in the groupware space, including Microsoft Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp., plan to make their debut in the electronic commerce market with the release of Microsoft Merchant Server and Netscape Commerce Server, respectively.

However, Lotus could have a competitive advantage because of the low cost of Domino.Merchant and the robust application development capabilities of Notes and Domino, analysts said. Still, many companies may prefer purely intranet-based solutions from companies such as Netscape.

"Lotus has opened up its server to a variety of clients and that's a good thing, but they're using the Notes infrastructure, basically a proprietary technology," said Steve Morse, an analyst with The Burton Group Inc., in San Francisco. "This is a dilemma customers will have to face: Go with feature-rich technology like Notes or an Internet standards-based technology that's not as feature-rich. There's more functionality with Notes, but if you go with it you'll be tied to that vendor."

Lotus' Internet applications require the company's Domino.Action Web building and content management application, which will ship with the Domino 4.5 server by the end of the month.

Lotus also announced Wednesday that 11 companies will use another one of its Internet applications, Domino.Broadcast, for broadcasting data over intranets. The list includes PointCast Inc., Marimba Inc. and BackWeb Technologies Inc. BackWeb is developing an application for broadcasting intranet flashes to Windows desktops.

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