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IBM Eyes E-Commerce Expansion

IBM Corp. Wednesday made a move to expand its increasing electronic commerce business -- this time by targeting small companies.

IBM Wednesday acquired Whistle Communications Inc., which specializes in making it easy for small businesses to easily set up transaction Web sites and other Internet services.

IBM plans to incorporate Whistle's "thin server" product with its own applications to help small companies conduct business on the Web and provide Internet and e-mail services to their employees.

IBM said the system will be easy for small businesses to maintain and will require few changes to existing systems. All the system's functions are managed through a Web browser.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Peter Rowley, general manager of IBM's global small business unit, said the buy recognizes the fact that the small business segment is growing faster than any other portion of the information technology industry.

"This acquisition will dramatically improve the ability of small companies to easily and inexpensively exploit the Internet," he said.