Magazine article Information Today

PointCast Takes News Global

Magazine article Information Today

PointCast Takes News Global

Article excerpt

Whether push-based or not, PointCast continues to deliver quality

PointCast ( is one of those Web-based firms whose success contradicts the theory that the advertising model does not offer a secure business strategy. And while many pundits (including myself) have in the past spent a great deal of time moaning and groaning about the amount of space its software takes up on your hard drive--not to mention the intrusive nature of its broadcasts--PointCast has soldiered on relentlessly, attracting new content providers and advertisers through its innovative approach to content delivery. It's no surprise then to see that the company is now offering country-specific broadcasts to the U.K. and Germany, adding to its existing network that serves the U.S., Canada, and Japan.

Ranah Edelin, PointCast's director of European operations, explained: "There is a critical mass of Internet users in the U.K. (and Germany for that matter), the growth forecasts are extremely attractive, and we are launching with version 2.6 of our software-our best and most stable software version to date. Combining those factors with the sponsorship and distribution deal we struck with British Telecom and the great content from ITN, The Economist, Reuters, and the Press Association, the launch of the U.K. service makes sense from every level.

"People have been asking for PointCast editions specific to the U.K. and Germany in the past," she continued, "but on the proactive side, we've done a lot of market research and prioritized our efforts to focus on the markets where we have the biggest overall opportunity. While we are evaluating other countries in Europe to expand to in the future, the U.K. and Germany are clearly the most attractive markets."

How PointCast Works

PointCast aggregates news and information from over 700 sources worldwide and broadcasts it via the Internet and corporate intranets directly to viewers' desktops. Its central broadcast facility receives information via satellite from sources 24 hours a day. This information is compressed and formatted for broadcast using the company's proprietary Smart Broadcast technology. It then broadcasts this information over the Internet to users' PCs, based on their (or company specified) update schedules.

To receive the PointCast Network's broadcasts, users download free client software to their PCs from the company's Web site. As part of the registration process, users are asked for their geographic location, industry, and special interests. PointCast then uses this information to select a customized set of default channels matched to viewers' needs and interests, although users can choose to override the preselected channels if they wish. In addition, users are asked how often they would like their news updated-- for example, every hour, once a day, or only when they click on the Update button.

Similar to the U.S. version, the European services provide access to six categories of information: companies, news, industries, sport, lifestyle, and weather. Users of the German and U.K. editions can access all of the content available on the U.S. and Canadian broadcasts, including the The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and CNN. In addition, Edelin explained that PointCast will be making all of the U.K. and German content available via the U.S. and Canadian versions in the near future. British Telecom (BT) is acting as sponsor and distributing partner for the U.K. edition, and it is offering PointCast's software as part of its Internet CD-ROM service. In return BT will benefit from large-scale advertising on PointCast's U.K. broadcasts.

A Consistent Focus

Despite the PointCast Network's constant expansion, Edelin explained that the company's aims and its target audience. have never altered: "The PointCast Network was created to provide Internet users with personalized, up-to-the-minute news and information whether at home or at work. …

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