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HP to Release 'E-Speak' Code for Searching Net

May 19, 1999|JOSEPH MENN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PALO ALTO — Hewlett-Packard Co. said it will release the code for programming that, if widely adopted, would allow businesses and consumers to seek out services on the Internet more easily.

Palo Alto-based Hewlett-Packard, which sat out the first Internet boom, said that its "e-speak" method for searches and communications would be the centerpiece of its continuing Internet services marketing campaign.

"It really steps ahead to where we think the Internet is going," said Chief Executive Lewis Platt.

The move echoes the introduction and distribution of the universal programming language Java by Sun Microsystems, a gambit that brought in more customers and established Sun as an Internet technology leader.

Hewlett-Packard shares surged $7.25 to a record high of $96 on the New York Stock Exchange a day after the company reported its third straight quarter of profits above Wall Street projections.

HP is better known for printers, personal computers and servers than for software or consulting, and Platt said the challenge will be for Hewlett-Packard to get other companies to adopt the technology quickly.

If that happens, he said, Hewlett-Packard's "service business should grow faster than hardware."

Platt and other HP executives defined e-services more broadly than e-commerce, or transactions for products over the Web. The former includes the performing of tasks for fees and the seeking out of Web-based entities that will do that performing.

In recent weeks, Hewlett-Packard has announced alliances or endorsements from Qwest Communications, PSINet, Andersen Consulting, Oracle, PeopleSoft and a dozen other companies. Nokia, the cellular phone giant, said Tuesday it would work with HP as well.

Apple Computer has a similar multi-transaction search engine in Sherlock 2, part of the Sonata operating system it expects to release this fall. In a recent demonstration, a Sherlock 2 user was able to search multiple e-commerce sites simultaneously, overriding the differing user interfaces.

"That does sound similar," Platt said. "Is it likely to be that nobody's thought of it? I don't think so."

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