ConnectInc.com (Nasdaq: CNKT), a visionary but unsuccessful vendor of E-commerce
software, was purchased by Calico Commerce Inc. (Nasdaq: CLIC) in a stock swap
valued at about $90 million. ConnectInc.com began life as a vendor of expensive
E-commerce servers targeted to hosting companies and large enterprises. With
few customers and a faltering stock price, the company fell back and retrenched,
emerging with a more open suite of products offering catalog and order processing
capabilities. Calico, a recent Wall Street darling, specializes in software
that helps online customers purchase complex products; its customers include
Dell and gateway. Calico claims that integrating the product lines will be easy,
and promises a December launch of the resulting product.
plays in a ring with such heavyweights as BroadVision and OpenMarket. This is
not even close to being a commodity market, and while each vendor describes
the same basic features - content management, E-commerce, personalization -
each is still jockeying to stake out market share by adding new and different
features or defining specific vertical market expertise. Integrating its current
product, which focuses on the sales of complex systems like personal computers,
with ConnectInc's E-commerce fundamentals will make Calico's offerings more
attractive to the customers in its targeted market. This will not immediately
attract customers who, for example, are attracted to BroadVision because of
its recent acquisition of content management and publishing pioneer FutureTense.
However, the high-end is always smaller than the middle, and as the battle shifts
to mid-sized firms the frills will be less important as selling points than
will coverage of the basics, integration with existing systems, and price. If
ConnectInc's newly rewritten software can scale appropriately it will be a potent
weapon for Calico in that future battleground.
If your application involves selling products and services that require configuration
and other kinds of customization, Calico should be on your short list. If you'd
previously evaluated it and found it missing the catalog and order handling
capabilities that ConnectInc brings, then Calico is worth a second look. As
with any yet-to-released product, however, be sure not to buy without the specific
features, turnaround time and reliability necessary for successful business
on the Web.