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HEARD ON THE BEAT

It's Got Zing

July 13, 1998|KAREN KAPLAN

Say goodbye to the World Wide Wait. San Francisco start-up Zing Network has introduced a free software program that takes advantage of those annoying waiting periods when Web pages are downloading by entertaining Web surfers with jokes, famous quotes, pictures of cars or even foreign-language flash cards.

When a Web browser goes looking for a new site, the program produces a pop-up screen that displays images from one of eight categories, ranging from rock stars to fine art. Once the page has loaded, the player recedes into a corner of the computer screen--until the browser goes surfing again.

The Zing player refreshes its supply of images by visiting a Zing server while the browser is idle, so it doesn't interfere with the user's primary Web-surfing activity. The images--which require 10k to 90k of memory each--expire automatically to avoid cluttering up the hard drive.

The nearly 2-year-old company plans to make money through partnerships with content providers such as Rolling Stone magazine and by selling ads. Advertising will be limited to no more than 10% of content so users stay with the service, said President and Chief Executive Mark Platshon.

Web surfers have been able to download the free player at http://www.zing.com since last month, but Platshon said it's too soon to say how many people are actually using it.

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