PageQ designer explores new browser models

John Blennerhassett targets web TV in future browser generations

Dossier

Name: John Blennerhassett

Title: Designer/Project Manager

Organisation: PageQ (Aspiring Software)

Location: The Estuary, Christchurch

Favourite restaurant: Kenzo Japanese Restaurant, Ferrymead, Christchurch

Most recent read: Googled: The end of the world as we know it? by Ken Auletta

Favourite place to visit in New Zealand: Wanaka, Central Otago – mountains, lake, sun, relax…

Worst job: stacking concrete blocks onto pallets, lasted half a day…

First computer: B5700 at uni, punched cards, time sharing, ah the good old days…

What keeps you, John Blennerhassett, awake at night: only a major earthquake would wake me at night  

John Blennerhassett, designer of the PageQ browser, has embraced two key information-age models to take his software to market – a “freemium” model, where users can upgrade from a free version to a fully featured paid version of the browser, and viral marketing.

Computerworld gets the low-down on his browser ambitions.

Once it looked as if Internet Explorer would be the browser standard that everyone used. Why does the world need more than one browser?

Proprietary standards are seldom good for consumers. Open standards and competition is. The underlying function of a browser (get a page and display it) is pretty simple and the current standards are now universally accepted, which is all good.

What remains to be seen is what additional function browser manufacturers add to their offerings in order to differentiate. Firefox has eaten into IEs market share over recent years with an open platform, plug in model and early exclusives like tabbed browsing. Now Apple Safari browser is available for PC and Google recently launched their Chrome browser.

Browser wars are back on! PageQ jumps in here with the exclusive ability to create, upload and search for playlists of web pages. The mind shift is this: Google has been successful because it provides relevant search results from the great “primordial soup of the internet” via algorithms and robots. PageQ provides web search results by human beings — kindred sprits with the same interests as you. It is another level of filtering the internet.

What’s the business model for PageQ?

The basic price point of the internet is $0 … nada. So like IE, Firefox, Safari and Chrome, pageQ Browser Pro is downloaded free of charge. PageQ Browser creates the Qs and uploads then to QNet. Qs can be viewed in any browser. The model is:

• PageQ Browser and an open online library of Qs, with live Q Search; all provided free. The aim is to generate Qs in QNet and subsequent downloads of pageQ Browser through viral propagation of internet knowledge in Qs.

• Each Q created by pageQ Browser has a title page with pageQ banner advertising, title, author, description info and so on. The title page is displayed every time the Q is viewed, played or edited. PageQ’s current banner sponsor is Qantas.com. This is a classic internet model: create traffic and advertisers will follow.

• The pageQ premium product – pageQ Browser Groups at US $39 per seat – has additional functions; the ability to override pageQ advertising with group/organisation branding and the ability to create and share Qs online in private groups.

What notable recent developments have happened with the browser and your business?

Three recent innovations:

First is creation of an online library of Qs called QNet. Users can upload their Qs to QNet. Qs can be open for ‘wiki’ type contributions, or password protected in public or private groups.

Second is a version of the Q that can be viewed in any browser without pageQ Browser software installed on the PC. So Q searchers don’t need pageQ installed on their PC to search for and view Q content.

Third is a free version of the premium pageQ product for academic users called pageQ Browser Academic. Academia gave us the internet so we give back what we can. PageQ is currently working with two New Zealand universities.

Browser security has become a huge issue. How does PageQ deal with that?

The pageQ Browser has been registered with a number of leading shareware sites for some time. PageQ software is certified 100 percent clean. Under the covers we piggyback a little. PageQ Browser calls IE routines for web browsing and security functionality.

What’s the biggest challenge of entering a software market like this?

Gaining traction and, once you do, avoiding being copied. It is a market dominated by big players: Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, Google and so on. PageQ’s ultimate aim is to partner with one of the major browser, search engine or online media companies to broaden the community of Q creating and sharing users. PageQ gained a US patent for its browser technology in 2008.

What are the most common accolades you receive from users and what do they gripe about?

Early adopters of this sort of technology are generally adventurous or techy type users. They like the ability to jot notes about the pages they put in playlists. They generally have large favourites libraries and they like the ability to reorganise their favourites into Qs. With the recent release they are enjoying sharing Qs more easily through QNet and QSearch. The most common criticism is: Where is the Mac version or a plug-in for Firefox? Our answer – watch this space!

What are you developing on PageQ right now?

We want to enhance the timer function of the Q to better handle programming web content like web television. PageQ toolbar is virtually the same as a television remote. We are working on some utilities for pageQ users to upload banners and a shared advertising model with Q authors.

We are toying with Google AdSense advertising around QSearch, but currently prefer the cleaner ‘no advertising’ look. We are planning a plug-in type version of pageQ for Firefox to be followed by Safari and Chrome.

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