CNN On Your Desktop
Sunday, January 14, 1996 by Dave Winer.
I saw an incredible product the other day.
It's like CNN on your desktop, beautiful color windows, 1996ish design. Very well executed.
A hybrid app. Part client, part content, part server.
The most compelling app I've ever seen for a personal computer.
Information stays current. Weather forecasts scroll thru the window as on CNN, only prettier. A beautiful green-on-black stock ticker runs at the bottom of the window.
An always-visible menu (like a Netscape frame) gives lots of choices. Sports, financial, weather, news headlines, presumably lots of other categories.
It's immediate like email, but impersonal like the web. It's customizable. If you're interested in just 5 stocks, that's all you see. If you just care about the weather in Boston, Austin and Detroit, that's what you get. Just what you want. Always current.
The content is free, the connection is free, the software is free. Supported by advertising.
It's a total end-run around Netscape and Sun. You do not need, nor would you want, a web browser to access their information. What they provide is much more functional, faster and prettier.
It's called PointCast. As far as I can tell, it hasn't been announced. This may be a scoop. My demo was unofficial.
They have a website, http://www.pointcast.com/. They don't talk about the software at the site.
But you can get a lot from reading the tea-leaves. A Macintosh and Windows version of their client is in development. The Windows version is further along. They're building on Microsoft and Metrowerks C++. OLE and OpenDoc. Their Mac client will be scriptable. They're in Cupertino CA. The people are from Adobe, Ziff-Davis, Digital Equipment. Investors are Merrill, Pickard, Anderson & Eyre and Mohr-Davidow. Chuck Geschke, the president of Adobe, is on their board.
You can sign up to be a beta tester from their home page. I did.
Lesson learned: we've all been head-tripping (again!) with standards and FUD while these people have been doing the end-run -- not waiting, using C++ instead of Java, and filling the promise, maybe years ahead of the technology path that Netscape and Sun are on.
It's a great time to be alive!