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Polaroid Jumps into B2B Marketplace Game

Instant camera giant Polaroid Corp. Wednesday became the latest firm to launch a B2B marketplace.

The site, launched with technology and resources from digital business builder Viant Corp., will offer business and professional users an online experience that focuses on delivering real-time imaging solutions and e-commerce through channel providers.

For the perennial photography giant, the site is the firing pin of a new B2B model aimed at improving imaging effectiveness for end users. Slated to go live on June 30, the marketplace aims to enhance Polaroid (PRD) customers' work effectiveness by allowing quick access to imaging applications and products specific to their profession or solution need.

The site will initially focus on servicing Polaroid's business professional markets within the United States, eventually expanding as a global platform.

"Polaroid's greatest strength is the power of instant, and the Internet leverages our instant equity by providing our B2B customers with instant information, products, applications and commerce," said Polaroid executive Jim Barron.

Polaroid will work with Viant (VIAN) to develop business strategy and creative design and to implement technology for the site. The launch of the B2B e-commerce site represents the first of several enhancements to Polaroid's global Internet structure, which will include Polaroid's "Gen-I" youth market in the fall and an e-procurement upgrade by the end of 2000 for more efficient supplier transactions.

The play by the imaging giant is the latest in a flurry of online marketplaces springing to the fore. Firms are creating these sites, which span a myriad of industries, to make it easier for clients to fill their shopping needs.

On Tuesday, fob.com Inc. agreed to set up fobchemicals.com with B2B chemical and plastic exchange firm ChemConnect Inc. Also Tuesday, rival hotel giants Marriott and Hyatt said they will launch an online marketplace connecting people in the hospitality industry.