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General Instrument, Spyglass Plan $20 Million Joint Venture

Internet software company Spyglass and cable hardware maker General Instrument Corp. are partnering in a three-year, $20 million joint venture to develop new Internet-based cable services and technologies.

As part of the deal announced Wednesday, General Instrument will also take a 5 percent stake in Spyglass with an option to acquire an additional 5 percent.

The pair plan to create a Digital Software Integration Center which will develop new cable services and applications. The center will also oversee efforts by partners building services and applications for GI's digital cable platform.

The news comes less than a year after Spyglass started a cable and satellite television consulting practice. The focus of that unit has been to adapt and refine technologies for television.

David Robertson, senior vice president and general manager of GI's Digital Network Systems unit, said the partnership will provide broadband customers with a much wider range of revenue-generating services and applications.

"Advanced software is central to the success of the platform and Spyglass has the right mix of Internet expertise, software and services to assist us with the development of the next generation of digital services," he said.

Last month, Spyglass announced it was developing software for Motorola's forthcoming interactive set-top box, dubbed "Blackbird" which will offer Internet browsing, DVD movies and gaming.

Spyglass gained prominence with its Mosaic Web browser. Its source code was licensed to Microsoft Corp. which included it in its Internet Explorer browser. Another significant business for Spyglass is user-interface design.

Separately, Spyglass on Tuesday announced an 84 percent increase in fiscal fourth-quarter revenues which led to a much lower loss in the period. Spyglass lost $589,000, or 4 cents a share compared to a loss of $4.7 million, or 38 cents a share, a year ago.