Zaplets Illustrate New Email Possibilities

27 July 2000
In August of 1999, a new software company called FireDrop was created in Redwood Shores, CA upon a new technological wonder known as the Zaplet. A high-tech incubator called "Relativity" developed the concept. Brian Axe, 31, was the member of this group who finally made the necessary moves to capitalize on the idea. Axe became partners with David Roberts, 36, who originally worked for the CIA, at a houseboat party. The two secretly began to set up their own company and patented the Zaplet.

What makes the Zaplet unique from any existing interactive Web concept is that it shares characteristics of both email and instant messaging while utilizing an online server. Similar to an email, the Zaplet consists of a Java applet received through one's inbox. One may send this applet to any number of individuals who are then able to add their own information to be shared with the other recipients. What distinguishes the Zaplet from a regular email, however, is that the information it contains is constantly updated, similar to instant messaging. Though the Zaplet itself may have been received hours ago, the information on it will still be current. How is this possible? The information added by recipients is relayed through the FireDrop server to keep the Zaplet updated and current, and it may be viewed simply by opening one's Inbox - no complex Internet addresses.

The Zaplet prevents strings of email because it allows numerous parties to communicate through one common email received by all. It thus saves hard drive space because all responses are condensed into one file. In addition, the downloading that instant messaging programs require is unnecessary with the Zaplet. All that one needs in order to utilize Zaplet technology is Internet access and HTML-capable software. Results may very depending on one's Internet server and screen resolution, etc, but Zaplets can even be viewed from the FireDrop site if necessary.

For what purposes could one employ the Zaplet? Six types of Zaplets currently exist: the Schedule Zaplet; the Poll Zaplet; the Discussion Zaplet; the Contacts Zaplet; the Picture Zaplet, and the Story Zaplet. Businesses are beginning to utilize Zaplets for marketing, and the Republican Party for its campaigns. Family members may use the Zaplet to share photographs or to arrange gatherings. It is not at all implausible to expect that the new technology will eventually infiltrate the world of online gaming, though at this point Zaplets can only be sent and updated through FireDrop's server. Nevertheless, the Zaplet presents much potential for online commerce and communication.