updated 03:35 pm EDT, Tue September 26, 2006
Wallop social network
Microsoft today launched Wallop, its unique approach to social networking websites that offers an innovative graphical-interface to personalization tools and interactive elements as well as traditional social networking features such as groups, network affiliations, blogs, music, photo galleries, messaging, profiles, etc. Launched as an invitation-only network, Wallop uses personalization features along with its graphical Flash-based interface to begin a new genre of ad-free social networking--driven only by the sale of personalization tools from its marketplace. "Central to Wallop's business model will be Adobe Flash developers and designers who will sell their personal creations on Wallop's marketplace," the company said. "Now Flash experts, who have been responsible for many of the most innovative Web concepts, can make money doing what they love without any of the business hassle."
Wallop's marketplace model allows users to easily purchase ready-made, interactive forms of self-expression, called "Mods," from Flash developers and designers who are members of the Wallop Modder Network (WMN). This includes Flash content, such as interactive characters, stylistic backgrounds, graphical features and games, ready for purchase by the broad market of Wallop consumers; however, the company says it envisions developers extending the functionalities through complex Flash elements and its own API. Wallop, an company spun out of Microsoft IP Ventures, will take 30 percent of the sales of any "mod" sold via the marketplace, according to the company.
"We have been working with Wallop's Modder Network for several months now and have been very impressed with the opportunity it presents to Flash designers everywhere," said Alex Bard, president & CEO of Goowy Media. "They made it very easy for us to extend our minis, from yourminis.com, into the Wallop community. This creates value for the Wallop members while providing a great opportunity for individual Flash developers and companies to extend their applications and to create revenue opportunities."
If users see an element or graphical mod on a users' page that they wish to purchase, a single-click will allow them to buy the mod from the developer, which could be as little as $0.10. The company uses proprietary DRM to protect content and elements designed by developers and help sustain the marketplace-driven business model.
Interface revolutionizes personalization paradigm
In addition, Wallop's "revolutionary" new user interface evolved by Frog Design brings point-and-click simplicity to social networking and makes it dramatically easier to express a user's individuality. Through drag-and-drop layout tools, Flash-based "mods," photos, and other interactive elements, users will be able to extensively customize their own "space" on the internet without any knowledge of programming.
"We've had a great time working on the Wallop interface. We saw the opportunity to do something really interesting with social networking and turning Wallop into a social experience like no other," said Mark Rolston, senior vice president of creative at Frog Design. "We believe our solution redefines customer expectations, allowing them point-and-click simplicity to express themselves. So far, we are thrilled with how well the new design has been received."
Microsoft said the Flash-based interactive interface works with Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari (with the exception of a few lingering bugs) and offers a variety of tools instant messaging, music playback, and more.