As Seen On The Associated Press...
NEW YORK (AP) — IAC/InterActiveCorp, the Internet company controlled by media mogul Barry Diller, plans to relaunch its iWon.com Web site Monday with new games, more prizes and plans to add social networking functions.
The site also now incorporates a search toolbar that links iWon users to the company's Ask.com search engine. Diller has made growing Ask a priority and pledged to use the search engine as "the glue" to bring together IAC's myriad Internet businesses, which include LendingTree, Citysearch, Evite, Zwinktopia and others.
IWon's relaunch brings a relic of the dot-com era into the era of social networking, as the popularity of MySpace and Facebook have changed the way people use the Internet.
The site will eventually offer social networking features such as the ability to build personal profiles, chat and use Facebook widgets, iWon Vice President Tim Allen said.
After its 1999 launch, iWon was bought by AskJeeves, then based in Emeryville, Calif., which was taken up by IAC. It has since developed into a portal, trying to draw visitors with a wide-ranging set of features outside of online games, such as news, TV and movie listings and sports scores.
The new site design will focus primarily on casual games, a growing area that Allen says is now the third most popular reason people go online. The site will still offer its $1 million annual sweepstakes and will start to give away $10,000 a day during the week and $1,000 a day on weekends.
He said too few users were winning prizes on the old site, so the new version is designed to give away millions of dollars each year to thousands of users.
"It's like being in Vegas, only without the risk," he said.
Beginning Monday, visitors can play games such as mah jong, blackjack, poker and solitaire as well as instant win games such as Spin2Win. The new site has more than 70 games, up from 10, and there are plans for a total of more than 150 games by the end of the year. iWon estimates there are now 217 million people who play casual games online.
Since its 1999 launch, iWon has given away more than $70 million in cash and prizes, with its biggest draw the $1 million yearly sweepstakes.
IAC also recently relaunched its Pronto.com shopping Web site with an eye toward capitalizing on social networking. Its new tagline is "shopping gone social."