IQ News: EntryPoint Adds Features, Seeks Wider Audience

EntryPoint today launches an improved version of its free, downloadable toolbar, which puts personalized news, information and shopping functionality on the user’s desktop. EntryPoint 2.0 will replace EntryPoint 1.0 and PointCast, which will be phased out during this quarter.
New features include an extended alerting system for news events and changes in stock price or volume, stock portfolio tracking, a Fun button that links to consumer-oriented content and a screensaver that displays a full-screen ticker and news headlines.
“We bring information to users outside the browser, while they’re working in other applications,” said Francis Costello, president of San Diego-based EntryPoint. He believes the “desktop attention” category has as much potential as instant messaging, which has tens of millions of users. EntryPoint 1.0 and PointCast already have 800,000 registered users–who will be upgraded to the new version automatically–and Costello believes many more will be attracted by the “unique combination of news, information and e-commerce in a very lightweight, unobtrusive package.”
The 700KB applet takes about 3 1/2 minutes to download on a 56K modem, said Costello. By contrast, PointCast is about 5MB in size. EntryPoint 2.0 also puts less of a burden on user computers. The toolbar extracts key information and lets users go online with one click for more detail.
The company made “a conscious decision” to omit ads from the toolbar, Costello said. But there are plenty of advertising opportunities that generate enough revenue to support the free service, he added. “The Shop button on the toolbar takes the user to a directory of stores featuring our anchor tenants,” he said. “Users are also just a click away from a wide variety of buttons and banners. The Smartscreen screensaver has ad spots as well.”
The integrated eWallet offers opportunities for marketers. “Being right at the point of purchase offers incredible value,” Costello said. Discover Card signed a deal last fall that makes it the first card users see when they open the wallet.
EntryPoint is bundling the toolbar with 3Com modems and installation CDs for Freei.Net’s free Internet service. The company also announced today a co-branding and bundling deal with Bell Atlantic Internet Services. EntryPoint soon will launch a program under which affiliate sites will be paid for signing up new users.
The company recently signed Phillips-Ramsey, San Diego, to handle a $10 million ad campaign using print, radio and outdoor ads. EntryPoint has been handling online buys on sites such as CNET in-house.