Small Business News Briefs

Intuit Gets ‘Innovative’ for Merchants
Intuit’s $116 million purchase of credit and debit card processor Innovative Merchant Solutions this week signals a strategic step forward in its merchant account business.

The maker of personal tax and small business accounting software said it signed a deal to acquire Calabasas, Calif.-based Innovative, a provider of credit and debit card processing services for small businesses, for up to $116 million in cash. The company said it would build IMS’s products into its Right for My Business small business division.

“The deal strengthens the company’s offering of critical ‘beyond-accounting’ services — merchant account services,” said Steve Bennett, Intuit’s president and chief executive officer.

Since starting the merchant account division from scratch three years ago, it has attracted 40,000 customers and now represents about $9 million in revenue a year to Intuit, company officials said. Now, with the purchase of IMS, which is expected to close this month, the Mountain View, Calif.-based Intuit has an expanded array of merchant account products to offer its base of merchant customers, including new payment options such as PIN debit card processing and swipe terminals.

In addition, Intuit said its new offerings to merchants would be integrated with its suite of QuickBooks, the company’s flagship accounting software line.

Merchant account services are seen as an increasingly attractive opportunity as e-commerce grows. Intuit cited The Nilson Report, which said total credit and debit card spending was approximately $1.7 trillion in 2001 and is expected to grow 9 percent annually through 2005.

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QUALCOMM Unveils Eudora 6.0
Looking to keep inboxes free of spam, QUALCOMM Thursday released the latest commercial version of its Eudora e-mail software.

Version 6.0 of the program for Windows and Macintosh users now features automatic spam protection, an e-mail thread condenser, automated type formatting tools, and mailbox organizational shortcuts.

The San Diego-based company said a paid mode is available for $49.95 for new purchasers; $39.95 for previously paid registered users (Version 4.3 and higher); and no charge to users who purchased and registered the paid mode of Eudora versions in the last 12 months.

“Spam e-mail is the single biggest problem we hear about from users, followed closely by the challenge of managing the increasing volume of e-mail. This latest version includes many new features, but there are two in particular that address these issues directly: SpamWatch and Content Concentrator,” QUALCOMM vice president of Eudora Products William Ganon said in a statement.

Beyond the basic quarantine functions, the SpamWatch feature, available in paid mode only, sorts through the junk e-mail box to find the “wanted mail,” if there is any. The software assigns a numeric ranking system, which QUALCOMM calls a “junk score.” A higher number indicates e-mail with a greater number of criteria defining that mail as spam. The feature also includes the option of adding “Junk” and “Not Junk” icons to the toolbar.

The company says its Content Concentrator feature helps users weed through long e-mail threads by focusing on key words with three levels of concentration. Window’s users can copy fonts and styles from one place to another in an e-mail with the Format Painter function. Macintosh OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) users can access their list of mailboxes from any mailbox window with the Mailbox Drawer function.

The software also includes dual SMTP authorization that lets Eudora interoperate with the ISP’s increasing restrictions on sending and forwarding mail and improved filtering and transfer actions in IMAP mode.

QUALCOMM also included an open application program interface (API) architecture in both paid mode and sponsored mode, available to third party developers, so other anti-spam tools and plug- ins can be added.

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Hit the Road with Nextel, @Road Mobile Services
Nextel Communications is leveraging @Road Pathway service to provide small- and mid-sized businesses with an effective way to manage and communicate with a mobile workforce.

@Road Pathway enables telecommunications, field service, construction, facilities and waste management, freight and passenger transportation, courier and delivery, distribution, security, broadband and utilities companies that want a cost-effective mobile resource management solution, to verify routes, stops and work schedules. The solution is now available on Nextel’s i58sr and i88s phones by Motorola with onboard assisted global positioning system capabilities.

The @Road Pathway solution incorporates a number of features that are designed to help minimize the manual tasks of managing mobile workers, including:

  • Customer-configurable maps and pre- and user-defined landmarks
  • Recent location information of mobile resources from any Internet-connected PC
  • Mileage, time in transit, and start/stop reports
  • Stored location information for mobile workers outside a coverage area or on a phone call
  • Application hosting by @Road, minimizing customer information technology investments

“Today, we see companies of all sizes seeking to reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction,” said Krish Panu, president and CEO of @Road. “We believe that @Road Pathway can provide a company cost-effective services to more effectively manage its mobile workers and positively impact a company’s bottom line.”

Operating on Nextel’s nationwide all-digital data network, @Road Pathway is a hosted service that combines the convenience of wireless communications with access to mobile resource information via a secure @Road website.

Small businesses can subscribe to @Road Pathway service for one- or two-year terms. Activating the solution requires a @Road Pathway service plan starting at $14.95 a month per subscriber, plus a one-time activation fee, the cost of a Nextel voice and Total Connect data plan, and a Nextel GPS-enabled phone.

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Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.

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