Push: the precursor to the portal

Push: the precursor to the portal

The corporate portal concept has antecedents in many fields, but it most resembles the Internet craze of several years ago for push technology. The fact that push and its proponents failed in their vision of narrowcast newspaper-style information delivery does not necessarily presage a similar fate for the EIP, but it serves as a portent of doom for those who don't get their business models right.

Push technology was a modification of the Internet which delivered packages of information to users, instead of them "pulling" data through their modems. News services could be chosen and customised according to information preferences, so that instead of being delivered a complete "newspaper", users would only receive what they said they wanted.

The champion of push technology was a US company called PointCast, which suffered the ultimate humiliation in May when it was taken over by a younger company called idealab! for an undisclosed figure after financial difficulties and a stagnation in its user base.

The only Australian player in this field, a Melbourne-based company called Sorento Communications run by CEO Pat Scanlon, wound up only a year after starting an ambitious beta testing project for a push service called the Sorento Australian Desktop Network, following a dispute with its primary information supplier, Media Monitors. Mr Scanlon had tried to reposition Sorento as a business-to-business communications tool for extranets, but rumours of deals with industry bodies did not translate into sales.

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