Israeli startup PopTok has done a brave thing. It’s created a plugin that combines emoticons and movie quotes (which, used in excess, are two of the most annoying things known to man). The plugin is currently Windows only, offering support for AIM and MSN Live Messenger with more protocols on the way.
The JVP Studio-funded startup wants to replace emoticons as we know them with short snippets of Hollywood movies, television, and music videos. After downloading the PopTok client, users can choose from hundreds of clips which have been culled from such quotable classics as “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” and “Austin Powers”. The site has formed partnerships with a number of studios, so all of this is done legally.
Unfortunately, PopTok is going to run into a number of problems. Only users that have installed the PopTok plugin can see clips immediately – everyone else just gets a link to a page that shows the movie. It’s unlikely that many people will take the time to open their browsers for a three second payoff, so the program is going to have a hard time gaining traction.
PopTok is fun at first, but I’m afraid it has the potential to be one of the more annoying plugins on the web (if any of my friends start to use it often, I’ll probably block them). That said, I’m probably not the program’s target audience. Instead, PopTok seems geared towards the tween and teen markets, which are far more likely to embrace this sort of thing. If the program can get a sizable user base in the youth market then it stands a chance at saying, “Show me the money!”, otherwise I’m afraid it’ll be “Hasta la vista, baby.”