Sampa is an interesting new homepage-builder product that has just gone into beta. Like a lot of the products I'm interested in these days, it's quite hard to explain what it is! Sampa founder Marcelo Calbucci, an ex-Microsoftie who is still based in Redmond, calls it a "blog on steroids" - in other words, the next level up from a blog platform like Typepad or blogger.com. Marcelo admits they're still trying to define their market segment, but basically what he wants it to be is a platform for users to create a whole range of different apps - blogs, newsgroups, pages, photo albums, family tree, etc. If I had to slot it into a market segment, for now it'd be a blogging service.
Example Sampa site, Marcelo's own website.
I get the sense that Marcelo wants it to be much more than a blogging service though - he even mentioned to me that it's a WebOS (a web-based development platform). This is where he may have issues, because right now the Sampa site is targeting non-programmers - consumers, families, small businesses. It wants to be "easy to maintain, affordable and customizable", but if you take a look at the admin interface (screenshot below) it looks a little forbidding for the casual user.
Another thing that Sampa could do is go the same route as the Microcontent Aggregators I profiled in earlier posts (43Things, Suprglu, Peoplefeeds, etc) - i.e. be a central place for bloggers to access their various types of content across the Web. Flickr photos, delicious links, etc. Maybe also include widgets and gadgets, like the Personalized Start Pages.
For a homepage-builder, it's a crowded market - because everybody from SixApart to siteKreator (to pick one from the econsultant list) is trying to create a unique product that will also appeal to mainstream users. It's a tall ask to sell a web platform to Joe and Jane Bloggs, so I wonder whether Sampa needs to either make their interface a whole lot more simple - or alternatively change tack and go for the early adopter market, more befitting its "blog on steroids" description.
So, it's an interesting app but it probably needs more refinement. It is a very early beta though and you can test it out yourself at https://sampa.com/sm/pplan.aspx.