May 24, 2004 8:42 AM PDT

Start-up looks to add pluck to browsers

Start-up Pluck on Monday launched its first product, a set of tools designed to help people add capabilities to Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browsing software.

Pluck's self-titled package of browser add-ons promises to affix a range of extensions to IE, including expanded Web searching capabilities, live content folder sharing and a so-called rich site summary (RSS) reader. The product also includes an online community aspect, as it lets people exchange information saved in documents or folders.

A Pluck user, for instance, can create an online folder of links on a specific topic and distribute it to other individuals using the system. People armed with the company's software would automatically receive the information or updates in real time, while the content could be forwarded to parties not using Pluck's tools via e-mail. In addition to sharing information with friends or co-workers, the system also lets people create public folders available to anyone who has downloaded the Pluck application.

Other functions of the product include the ability to tack on notes, or what Pluck dubs WebLinks, to pages or documents being shared over the system. The software features a drag-and-drop design through which people can move pages or information directly into folders with a mouse click or with a single button on their browser. The RSS reader allows people to read XML-based documents via direct news feeds, rather than after the content is published online.

Pluck was founded last year by Andrew Busey, who helped build Mosaic, the Internet's first browser, and Dave Panos, the creator of IBM Lotus SameTime, an early Web collaboration application. Pluck is the latest company attempting to generate business by marketing software that aims to augment IE. An increasing number of companies have sprung up in this market over the last year, such as Onfolio, which sells a content aggregation application that works with Microsoft's browser.

Unlike Onfolio, which charges $30 to $80 for different versions of its browser-based tools, Pluck is distributing its software free of charge from its Web site and hoping to drive profits through paid listings. The company is using a similar sales model to the one employed by search giant Google, in which companies bid for specific terms and have their ads appear when users complete a search or access content relevant to their business.

The Austin, Texas-based company estimates that so far it has attracted several thousand people who have begun using a test version of its software.

 

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