Weightless Software Takes Off

SAN MATEO (02/11/2000) - If what happened to the market for browsers is any indication, shrink-wrapped applications even in the $100 and under range may find it hard to compete with a new business model that offers free Internet access to software without ever having to install it on a device.

Word processing, spreadsheets, presentation graphics, Web site creation,and SFA (sales-force automation) software were all launched last week at the Demo 2000 conference in Indian Wells, Calif.

Software bloat got a kick in the shins when TrellixWeb announced a deal with Lycos Inc. to distribute its online, clientless Web site building software, dubbed Trellix Web Express. Lycos' Tripod Community building service will give Trellix access to over 30 million users.

As Trellix Web Express is offered on countless community sites, it may become the next killer application for weightless programs that are stored on the service providers' networks, giving users access to their data anywhere, anytime, and from any device over the Internet. TrellixWeb was founded by CTO Daniel Bricklin, who is credited with inventing the spreadsheet -- the first killer application for personal computers.

Salesforce.com, a San Francisco-based company that markets SFA software to enterprise-size companies, is moving beyond the ASP (application service provider) model. Users can access, enter data, share accounts, and generate reports through any Web connection.

Salesforce.com charges a monthly fee of $50 for the first five users and $50 for each additional user.

"We didn't just take a client/server package and put HTML on the front end of it," said Parker Harris, director of development at Salesforce.com. "We architected Salesforce. com for the Web."

ThinkFree.com, based in Mountain View, Calif., is "all about freedom," according to its motto. The company is offering a Microsoft Office-compatible package with word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, address book, e-mail, and file manager features.

The ThinkFree solution gives users 20MB of storage for access anytime in a Web-based ThinkSafe cyberfolder, which is password-protected. The company will charge for storage above 20MB.

Presenter, from iAmaze, is a Web-based online slide show creation application and only the first program in a suite of packages the company is promising to ship. Files created on the Web are compatible with desktop software, according to a company spokesperson, and stored on iAmaze's network.

TrellixWeb Corp., in Waltham, Mass., is at www.trellix.com. Salesforce.com Inc. is at www.salesforce.com. ThinkFree.com Corp. is at www.thinkfree.com. iAmaze, in San Francisco, is at www.iamaze.com.

Lightening the load

Loudcloud Inc., founded in September 1999 by Netscape Communications Corp. co-founder Marc Andreessen and funded to the tune of $68 million by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Benchmark Capital, is promising to free dot-com start-ups from the heavy burden of managing an e-commerce Web site.

"We can collapse time to market by 2.5 times for start-ups," Andreessen said.

The company aims to be both an ASP (application service provider) and a database hosting center.

Although many dot-coms find outsourcing services a cost-effective way to run a business, they still have some reservations.

"Most service-level agreements say that if your system goes down you don't have to pay for the service for the time it was down," said Lu Cordova, CEO of Acteva, an events management company and Loudcloud's first customer.

Not paying for the service becomes a minor detail if a site is down, Cordova said.

"The onus is on Loudcloud," Cordova said, to do better than that.

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More about ActevaBenchmark CapitaliAmazeLoudcloudLycosMicrosoftMorgan StanleyMorgan Stanley Dean WitterNetscape Communications CorpSalesforce.comThinkFreeTrellixWeb

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