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pmcnamara
News Editor

Like PointCast without the pork

Opinion
Nov 04, 20024 mins
Enterprise Applications

Describe a product such as KlipFolio from Serence and many a mind turns immediately to PointCast, which way back in the mid-1990s pioneered push technology mere seconds before giving it a bad name: bandwidth hog. Serence CEO Allan Wille wants to avoid that particular PointCast pitfall, as well as another more commonplace one: failing to make money.

Describe a product such as KlipFolio  from Serence and many a mind turns immediately to PointCast, which way back in the mid-1990s pioneered push technology mere seconds before giving it a bad name: bandwidth hog.

Serence CEO Allan Wille wants to avoid that particular PointCast pitfall, as well as another more commonplace one: failing to make money.

“This still is an incredibly difficult business for us to monetize,” says Wille, who is unusually candid – and apparently pragmatic – for an entrepreneur. “We’ve been talking to a tremendous number of brand-name content providers, and I would say almost none of them would pay us real cash for this product. It’s all bartering arrangements, advertising swaps and risk-sharing-type models that they would get into. Cash right now for these guys is incredibly tight.”

The Sporting News is an exception. It is using Serence’s KlipFolio technology to push hot-off-the-presses sports news to readers who, it is hoped, eventually will provide the publication with a new revenue stream. Wille says The Sporting News sees fantasy sports enthusiasts – a notoriously rabid bunch – as most likely to pony up cash for the immediacy that push services promise.

KlipFolio provides end users with a small desktop window into which is delivered a stream of informational tidbits and links to outside data repositories.

“It cuts through the clutter and delivers the important stuff without delivering any garbage,” Wille says. “It’s really a jumping board to further information.”

Still there remains that nagging problem of getting people to cough up cash.

Wille says the best opportunity for Serence to crack that nut is with the enterprise network executive. As his company this week prepares to launch Version 2.0 of KlipFolio, which will offer more granular personalization features, Wille says its focus is turning much more directly toward corporate accounts.

As for the unwanted legacy of PointCast (since reborn as Infogate): “It was a hog,” Wille recalls, anything but fondly.

Which begs the question: Does KlipFolio go oink-oink?

“No, actually not, because we want to put it on cell phones and wireless devices,” he says. “Our tool is a 300K download, and each individual channel is about 4K, and that’s important because eventually when these channels get pushed to wireless devices, size really is everything.”

Microsoft shows apologies are cheap

This so-called guerrilla marketing is getting old. As you might have noticed, Microsoft was excoriated recently for littering urban landscapes with hundreds of 12- to 20-inch butterfly decals as part of an advertising blitz to launch the latest version of MSN. This adds the world’s most famous software maker to the list of companies – including IBM, Snapple and Nike – that have used this annoying technique to promote their products.

In the vast pantheon of Microsoft sins, the great butterfly caper of 2002 probably won’t warrant more than a footnote, but it was galling.

“We made a mistake with the decals, and we take full responsibility for what happened,” blathered a Microsoft executive after the company took its predictable public relations pounding.

Anyone who believes the company didn’t fully anticipate that reaction redefines the word naive.

However, New York officials seemed content with Microsoft’s mea culpa.

And that was the real mistake. If cities want to put a stop to this nonsense they’re going to have to stomp on a butterfly or two somewhere along the line.

Want to stomp on a columnist? That address is buzz@nww.com.