Partnership America goes wireless

Partnership America, an online community that brings value-added resellers together with government and education buyers, can now be accessed via wireless phones.

Ingram Micro Inc. unveiled Partnership America 2.0 at the Comdex Fall 2000 trade show in Las Vegas this week.

The company also announced that it has entered a strategic agreement with Sprint whereby the phone company will provide free phones to 15 VARs. The resellers, in turn, select government users to take part in the pilot program to wirelessly access the site, said Pamela Bryson, vice president of business development at Ingram Micro.

"The VARs give the cell phone access to the government users, and they can use them to log in, check pricing and availability, place an order and check order status," Bryson said. The wireless pilot will run through next spring and then become available to all users.

Other new features of Partnership America include:

* Administration tools to help resellers manage their stores.

* Multiple catalog tools.

* Taxation and freight option assignments for specific contracts.

* General Services Administration contract pricing.

* Specialized order limits.

* Improved e-mail notification.

Most Partnership America users so far have been federal and education customers, but Santa Ana, Calif.-based Ingram Micro is trying to bring some state government customers into the mix, Bryson said.

Bryson met with representatives from Louisiana two weeks ago, and they have agreed to sign on once there are more Louisiana-based e-providers in the Partnership America community. Other states have expressed similar interests, she said.

Currently, 20 VARs are involved in the online community. On a Partnership America store site, each vendor can provide up to three pages of written information, as many five images and a link to the company home page.

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