Lotus Development Corp. has signed Ingram Micro D as the exclusive U.S. distributor of its new Lotus MarketPlace line of direct marketing software, the two firms announced Wednesday.
MarketPlace is considered a breakthrough package because it combines a massive database of business and consumer information with programs that will enable users to tailor the data to their specific needs and to generate mailing lists, labels and personalized sales pitches.
The exclusive agreement will last for six months from the date the first of the programs, MarketPlace: Business, hits the market sometime in the third quarter, Ingram Micro D officials said.
The Lotus software runs only on the Apple Macintosh computer.
The pact is especially important to Santa Ana-based Micro D, the nation’s largest distributor of microcomputer products, because MarketPlace requires the use of one of the relatively new compact-disc-type, or CD-ROM, storage devices for their computer. Micro D plans to push sales of CD-ROM drives in tandem with the Lotus software.
Suggested retail price for the basic MarketPlace: Business package is $695; a CD-ROM drive can cost an additional $400 to $800.
MarketPlace: Business will provide a data base of 7 million businesses and will enable users to devise lists based on criteria such as ZIP code, type of business, annual sales, company size and number of employees.
A second version, called MarketPlace: Households, is expected to be released early next year. It will provide financial and consumer buying habits information on about 120 million people in 80 million U.S. households.
Critics of the system claim it will create significant privacy problems by providing consumer information--including home addresses, estimated household incomes and product preferences--to anyone with a personal computer and the money for the software and a CD-ROM drive.
Lotus officials, however, claim the software contains safeguards to eliminate abuses. Among other things, users must provide proof that they are licensed businesses, and consumers can request that their names be eliminated from the database.
And Lotus said it intends to randomly monitor program users to ensure compliance with restrictions against using it to generate mailing lists for sexually oriented materials, speculative real estate offerings or any “deceptive or misleading” offers.