Wired Booze

eSkye.com teams with IBM to 'Wire' The Beverage Alcohol Industry

Indianapolis, Sept. 7 -- Lots of interesting things came out of the temperance movement and Prohibition last century. We got the graham cracker (supposedly a replacement for beer) and stock-car racing. However, one thing that hasnt changed much over time is the supply chain for alcoholic beverages.

One exciting change is afoot right now, though. Seizing upon the concept of Internet appliances, IBM and eSkye.com are teaming up to provide alcohol retailers with affordable computers and Internet access.

Why would they do that? To bring alcohol retailers and restaurants to eSkye.coms exchange, of course. Takers will get an IBM Aptiva computer with a Celeron processor, a 15-inch monitor, an Epson Color printer, one year of on-site maintenance and free Internet access and e-mail, provided through Lycos. The entire system will be available to all eSkye.com customers at an affordable price. "eSkye.com's objective is not only to create the leading online marketplace and information exchange for our industry, but also to ensure that it is widely available within the industry," said J. Smoke Wallin, founder and CEO of eSkye.com.

This maneuver mimicks what several companies have tried to do in the private sector. PeoplePC, for example, offers a free computer to customers when they sign up for their Internet service. To date, few, if any, companies have been successful in the private sector. Time will tell whether eSkye.com can pull it off. If nothing else, it should help them pull in the small, mom-and-pop businesses to their exchange.

Early in its development, eSkye.com began working to affiliate with PC and Internet partners to develop a program capable of moving the beverage alcohol industry online. Through their work with IBM, eSkye.com will allow the 70% of bars, restaurants, and liquor retail outlets in the U.S. currently without Internet capabilities to join the eSkye.com marketplace. "eSkye.com was created to apply modern solutions to an industry that is still operating largely as it has since prohibition," said Bob Wleklinski, eSkye.com's Director of Strategic Alliances. Well, graham crackers and stock cars it's not, but it's still pretty exciting stuff.