Icebox deal puts animation in your face

Web start-up Gizmoz, which develops multimedia technology, strikes a deal with entertainment site Icebox.com to provide animated programming on desktops.

Web start-up Gizmoz, which develops multimedia technology, said it has struck a deal with entertainment site Icebox.com to provide animated programming on consumers' desktops.

Gizmoz, backed by former Apple Computer Chief John Sculley, has developed a technology, also called Gizmoz, that provides media companies a way to beam their content online using animation, photos, streaming video, audio and text.

For companies, the Gizmoz technology can track consumers' activities through Java applets and deliver marketing feedback in real time. For consumers, the Gizmoz are automatically updated and stored on their desktops; people can copy the content to a personal Web site or e-mail it to friends.

"I think it's a perfect partnership," said Jarvis Mak, an Internet analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings. "For people who go back and want to keep seeing the latest animation, it's perfect for (content) to be sent to them passively rather than having to actively check it."

Under Monday's deal, Gizmoz and Icebox feature coming attractions and sneak peeks of animated, short programs through "Out of the IceBox," which will be updated each week on consumers' desktops. Some of the episodes will be from popular Icebox shorts such as "Zombie College" and "Poker Night."

"The Icebox content is so original and hilarious that it's going to be natural for people to want to collect these Icebox Gizmoz, share them with friends, and keep watching them when they are updated," Gizmoz Chief Executive Eyal Gever said in a statement.

The two companies are not alone in trying interest people in short, animated films. Nielsen/NetRatings' Mak said Icebox and other lesser-known companies must collaborate or merge to compete with dominant players such as AtomFilms, which was recently acquired by Macromedia's Shockwave.

"I think there's a lot of content already out there," Mak said. Entertainment companies must find "compelling content that will keep (people) coming back again and again."

New York-based Gizmoz, formerly titled Zapa Digital, announced in May that it had struck a deal with the William Morris Agency to promote the Web start-up's multimedia technology. The company previously had received $14 million from a group of investors including Chase Equity Associates, Polaris Venture Capital, AOL Investments, Giza GE Venture Fund and 1-800-Flowers.com.

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