They are proposing pretty limited service though: it's only for whole sites,
it's a full Web transaction, TCP setup, it's not integrated into the browser,
can't be used for other internet applications -- so someone may yet better
ReplyNet aims to make Internet addresses easy to remember
By Kristi Essick
Posted at 3:37 PM PT, Aug 8, 1996
ReplyNet Inc. on Thursday announced The Pointer Network, a service which
allows users to access World Wide Web addresses by entering a key word or
phrase instead of typing the entire http address.
The Pointer Network is essentially a browser redirection service which uses
the redirection capabilities found in most popular Internet browsers. Using a
series of high-speed computers and database engines, the service allows for
instantaneous redirection to a Web site when a "pointer" word or phrase is
entered into the Pointer Network site at _http://www.pointer.net/_.
ReplyNet is also working with other major Web sites to provide pointer access
directly from their sites. Web site operators must pay $60 per year to sign
up for the first pointer, plus $25 for each additional pointer, and can apply
for the service on the Pointer Network Web site.
"Many people are bothered by the dot-this and slash-that part of an Internet
address and our service completely eliminates that problem. We designed this
service to help users reach their 'net destination without needing to remember
a 50-plus-character-long address, " said John Brogan, president and CEO of
Brogan said that he believes this service is the first giant leap toward
curing the high-tech phobias many first-time users have about the Internet.
However, some analysts are skeptical that such a service is really necessary
in the age of sophisticated browsers that offer book-marking and shortcut
features to favorite Web sites.
"The value of this service, which you have to pay for [on an ongoing basis],
doesn't impress me," said Mark Levitt, analyst for market research firm
International Data Corp. "We are getting very lazy if we can't even type in a
couple of words to get to a Web site," Levitt continued, adding that many
browsers allow you to skip typing the "http://www" part of a URL anyway.
Nonetheless, ReplyNet is banking on corporate customers, who want to do
everything possible to attract Web surfers to their sites, signing up for the
service, according to Brogan.
The company will also offer statistics reporting services to users who sign
up for pointers which will calculate the number of hits a pointer receives and
which kind of browser a Web surfer is using to access the site. The Pointer
Network also allows an e-mail message to be sent to the owner of the pointer
without the sender needing to know her actual e-mail address.
ReplyNet, based in Rockville, Md., can be reached at (301) 738-8809 or at
Kristi Essick is a San Francisco-based correspondent for the IDG News
Service, an InfoWorld affiliate.