Netvibes, one of the leading 'personalized homepage' products on the market, today officially released its new version - nicknamed the "Coriander Edition". This edition has been under discussion for the past month on the Netvibes blog, but today it is being officially launched. Incidentally Netvibes is now using the term "super-personalized homepage" to describe itself - nothing like a bit of added hype to stir things up! The new Netvibes edition comes soon after the My Yahoo upgrade announcement a couple of weeks ago.
While My Yahoo is the undisputed market leader for personalized homepages, with 50 million users according to comScore, Netvibes is the leading startup. Netvibes currently claims to have "nearly 10M users" (an unverified figure). Pageflakes, which recently re-located to Silicon Valley, is also competing well in what is a pretty tough market. Each of the Big 3 (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo) has a horse in this race.
But to the new Netvibes release - what's in it? Here are the main additions, in list format:
- New "Netvibes Reader" with multimedia capabilities;
- New "instant sharing" capabilities - users can share their feeds, modules and Netvibes pages via email or instant messaging (essentially this is "private" sharing, rather than public sharing which Netvibes already had);
- "Quick start assistants" to make it easier for new users;
- Netvibes2Go is a beta preview of Netvibes' mobile edition, which pushes and syncs Netvibes directly to cell phones or other mobile web devices;
- New Craigslist and Map Search modules;
- Over 30 more languages, including a Chinese version with localized content - Netvibes now claims to support over 80 languages.
The new RSS Reader is the main addition - it features games, podcasts, music, photos, videos, and live sharing capabilities. In the past I have found it difficult to use the likes of Netvibes and Pageflakes as RSS Readers (although other people have had no such problems, so it's perhaps a matter of taste). The new version doesn't seem to have solved my main issue - which is that you can't easily track hundreds of feeds in it. Nevertheless the addition of more types of media (podcasts, video, etc) is welcome. To describe the new Reader, Netvibes founder and co-CEO Tariq Krim found a new meaning for the RSS acronym - Really Sexy Syndication!
New media and podcast features in the Reader
Netvibes has been releasing a lot of new features recently - e.g. its Universal Widget Platform (a.k.a. the Netvibes API) aims to make Netvibes widgets available on every widget platform or blog system; including Google IG, Apple Dashboard and others. Its competitors are also busy - Pageflakes recently released a "video flake" and Webwag launched its "Widget On Demand" in February.
My feeling though is that all the small players are competing for some of My Yahoo's 50 million users. Netvibes may well be a "super-personalized homepage", but My Yahoo has a super-advantage with its 50M user base.
I was actually wondering recently whether Netvibes would be an acquisition target for Yahoo, so that the big Y could get some of that super functionality that Netvibes offers. But it now seems that Yahoo wants to build up their own service, in-house. Therefore we can expect some aggressive competition from the startups over the coming months, focused on features (as in the Coriander release of Netvibes) - to try and entice bigco users across to their services.
Update: The topic of this week's Read/WriteWeb poll is: Which Personalized Homepage Do You Use?