PointCast faces online news competition

PointCast Network has gained a rival in the live, online news delivery stakes.

PointCast Network, the darling of Internet news delivery, got a double blow this week, with the arrival of competition from the doyen of screensavers, Berkley Systems' After Dark, and the highlighting of MIS concerns about its tendency to hog bandwidth (see PointCast outcast).

After Dark Online is almost identical to the PointCast "smartscreen", which automatically downloads news and information for display as a screensaver. It offers news from USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, DBC Financial News and Sports Illustrated Online, and a "stock ticker" which also gives out sports scores.

Like PointCast, After Dark Online ( is free for download, but After Dark already has a Macintosh client available. PointCast recently told the 62,000 Mac users who signed up for a beta programme that they would have a version "within 30 to 60 days".

Entirely new code has been written for the Mac PointCast, which is to be split into five "applets" and will boast full drag-and-drop. Meanwhile, user groups are reporting some problems with After Dark Online.

PointCast for the Mac may actually be the first client to work with I-Server, PointCast's answer to criticisms from IS managers, who say PointCast is bringing networks to a halt because it constantly downloads news updates for every user.