iPlanet: Sales to burgeon in Asia

The e-commerce alliance between Sun and Netscape predicts that the Asia Pacific region will continue to be one of its fastest growing markets.

SINGAPORE--iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions, an alliance between Sun Microsystems and Netscape Communications, expects Asia Pacific to contribute "more significantly" to its worldwide revenues over the next two to three years.

iPlanet, which was established in March 1999, develops software for Web sites and e-commerce portals. Its target industries include telcos, service providers, financial services and government.

Revenue contributions from Asia Pacific (including Japan) grew from less than 5 percent in 1999 to about 18 percent as of June 30 this year, said Steve Furney-Howe, vice president of iPlanet Asia Pacific.

According to him, iPlanet has to date accumulated US$1.2 billion in sales worldwide from its software licenses and licenses-related services.

He declined to provide actual revenue figures for Asia Pacific, but said that the region should continue to be the fastest growing area for the company.

Some of its regional customers include PSA Corp, Tokyo-Mitsubishi Bank, Samsung Group, Telekom Malaysia, Telstra, NTT DoCoMo, Lucent, China Telecom and China Mobile.

"Companies in Asia Pacific have recognized that there is an opportunity to become a bigger player in global economies through the rapid adoption of IT," Furney-Howe told CNETAsia in an interview.

This growth will be fueled by strong demand from governments in South Asia and Australasia, which are said to be the "most aggressive" in implementing e-commerce solutions.

China continues to be one of its fastest growing markets. "Companies in China realize that IT can play a role in helping to offer around-the-clock services over the Internet"--a trend that should accelerate with the country's entry into the World Trade Organization, Furney-Howe observed.

According to him, Sun Microsystems has named China one of its software development centers in the region, and iPlanet is "participating in that expansion."

"Taiwan has also been a good market for us, as telcos and financial companies there further expand into China," added the US-based executive.

Part of iPlanet's business strategy in Asia Pacific is to continue to build on its customer base, and work with local partners, software developers and system integrators, said Furney-Howe.

He noted that iPlanet has invested in human resources in the region over the past two years, with headcount increasing three-fold. It now has about 250 workers in 11 countries in Asia Pacific, compared with 70 employees in 1999.

"We have not made any reduction in headcount in the iPlanet space in Asia Pacific," he said.

When asked to what extent the economic slowdown had affected iPlanet's business regionally, Furney-Howe said customers have been taking a "conservative" approach in implementing IT projects. "The size of the projects we're winning are typically smaller, and that has impacted on our revenues."

Anand Menon reported from Singapore.