Intel to buy e-commerce specialist

Intel's recent announcement that it is buying iCat, an electronic-commerce software and services company, makes more sense than it might seem -- when e-commerce takes off, so will PC buying, Intel hopes.

"If e-commerce really takes off, there will be new users for PCs," Intel spokesman Robert Manetta said.

The acquisition might appear to spring from the chipmaker's interest in expanding into new areas, but the acquisition plays to its core business as well.

Intel is banking in part on the lure of shopping online to get more people to buy and use PCs, many of which are powered by Intel's chips, so the iCat purchase enables the company to shape some of the emerging e-commerce market.

"It's an effort to put our finger in the water," Manetta said, noting "it's not unheard of for Intel to venture into new business areas".

The purchase will be made through a subsidiary of Intel and is expected to be finalised by the end of this year. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. Privately-held iCat, based in Seattle, was founded in 1993 and its software assists in the building of Web-based "storefronts" for e-commerce.