YOU ARE AT:Archived ArticlesINFORMATION SERVICES VIA PAGERS COULD BE `TOUCH-DOWN' INDUSTRY

INFORMATION SERVICES VIA PAGERS COULD BE `TOUCH-DOWN’ INDUSTRY

Information services-whether it be sports, financial or headline news that arrives on an alphanumeric pager-could mark the early stages of a new industry, according to company promoters.

“Paging companies that don’t have these services will be left in the dust,” said Christopher Hayes, marketing manager for Intelligent Information Inc. of Stamford, Conn.

Numerous U.S. companies have developed the software needed to provide information services. The most common offerings now are stock quotes, headline financial news, sports scores and news, weather updates and traffic advisories.

The companies hook up with information sources, such as the National Weather Service or a nationwide sports network. Their software incorporates the information into a program that can be transmitted on the paging frequency. The product is sold to paging carriers to bundle into their paging packages.

Some people have insatiable appetites for certain types of information, said Steve Spiro, general manager of the nationwide network for Motorola Inc.’s Embarc Communication Services Inc.

“They can’t get the information they want any easier. We firmly believe information on the go will become more prevalent. We’re in the early stages of this new industry, but in the next year, I believe we’ll see major growth,” Spiro said.

Promoters say paging carriers will benefit financially from information services. For example, such value-added services may entice numeric subscribers to switch to alphanumeric service.

Information services means more pages will be transmitted and activity on paging networks will increase at a time when tariffs are dropping. “This is a way to increase revenues,” Spiro said.

Churn also may be reduced because the pager will become more than just a message receiver. Spiro said the average paging subsciber is paged twice a day, generally by work supervisors or family members, and pages often are associated with performing a task.

“When you add information or entertainment, you make it fun,” Spiro said. People not only want such a service, but they are willing to pay for it, he said.

Intelligent Information and Motorola’s Embarc represent two different types of information services, even though they target the same primary market segments-financial news and sports news. Intelligent’s subscribers set up personal information programs for themselves, specifying what news they want to receive. For instance, a subscriber to Intelligent’s News Alert Service may request all news concerning President Clinton or the country of Greece or activities at the Federal Communications Commission.

When a news item on those subjects is received, the Intelligent subscriber is paged. Hence, the name Alert in all of Intelligent’s services. Intelligent also offers Weather Alert, Quote Alert (financial news) and Traffic Alert.

“Our software takes a large stream of data and gives you what you want in real time. It is intelligent enough to parse this. For many people, there is so much information that it’s hard to keep up. We personalize it for them,” Hayes said.

The company has 5,000 direct customers and sells to more than 20 resellers today, Hayes said.

Motorola is entering the game with a different strategy. The company recently signed exclusive agreements with two prominent information providers-ESPN Enterprise Inc. sports programming and CNBC 24-hour cable TV network for business and financial news.

“We think name brand is important and, according to our research, people will pay for brand,” Spiro said.

Subscribers to Motorola’s ESPNET To Go receive a package of sports information, updated frequently. CNBC Market Page will be available next month, providing stock quotes of the top 50 most widely held companies, business headlines, and CNBC programs such as “The Dorfman Report,” “Street Talk” with David Faber, and “Winners and Losers” with Joe Kernen.

Unlike Intelligent’s service, the same data on ESPNET and CNBC is sent to all subscribers.

Motorola offers the services over its Wireless Broadcast Network, and is working on agreements with paging operators in the United States and abroad. Motorola hopes to sell CNBC Market Page through major brokerage houses; negotiations are underway.

Without a doubt, people want information of all kinds, said Ira Brodsky, president of Chicago-based Datacomm Research Co. “There’s no way to know in advance how successful a service will be. A lot of these things have to be tested in the marketplace. I know there’s one service that has been delivering stock quotes for years. These new services should probably be bridged to what people are already doing, such as paging,” Brodsky said.

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