SAN FRANCISCO — Surfing the Web is so 20th century. That just might be the thinking of startup Vysr, one of the many Internet companies hoping to make a big splash here at the Web 2.0 Expo this week.
Vysr has launched a limited public beta of RoamAbout, a browser extension for Internet Explorer and Firefox designed to bring Web users ready access to the services they want.
With Vysr installed, the idea is to let users quickly tap Web services they normally use without leaving the site they’re viewing. “This is a platform many services can be written for, too,” Vysr CEO Guda Venkatesh told InternetNews.com.
“I’m not going to hang out in MapQuest, but what I do want is a simple way to get at a map I can send to friends,” he added, giving one example of how someone might use Vysr. Another might be grabbing the latest weather information from Weather.com by typing a ZIP code into RoamAbout while still surfing the same site you’re on.
Already a variety of services offer users ready access to favorite services, from custom toolbars to specialized browsers, such as Flock.
But Vysr’s pitch is that consumers don’t have to leave Facebook or wherever they like to “live” on the Web, to retrieve services they need only occasionally. RoamAbout also connects with voice and text-to-speech communication services.
At launch, Vyser includes 10 of what the company calls “widglets” or utilities for opening a chat window, text-to-speech or other Web enhancements. “We plan to keep bringing out new ones, we’ve identified 600 we can potentially bring to market,” said Venkatesh. The widglets can be accessed from RoamAbout’s vertical popup bar, which is scrollable.
Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin said RoamAbout has real value and may have more of a marketing challenge than a technology one. He noted only a segment of the market will bother to load a Web plug-in however easy the process.
“This integrated approach they’ve taken is very good, but they need to get a critical mass of users to be attractive to advertisers,” Bajarin told InternetNews.com. “I’m going to be curious to see what kind of audience they grab. I suspect it will be a younger demographic more used to trying to new things.”
Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Vysr’s private funding includes several Silicon Valley angel investors, such as Ron Conway, The Sandhill Group and Mark Sherman of Battery Ventures. The company’s advisory board includes Google Research Team founding member, Rajeev Motwani.