I am a huge fan of start-up pages, web pages that show your customized news and information pulling in tons and tons of RSS feeds, in an easy to read, organized format. The most popular of these are iGoogle, MyYahoo, and Netvibes.
In fact, I use Pageflakes all day, every day. I pull in the RSS feeds from my favorite news sites, and instead of going to the various news sites and blogs to see new and updated information, I go to one place to view it all. In fact, whenever I show the power of this to my less-techie friends, they are astounded by the power of this sort of tool. The reason why people don’t know about this tool is because:
- RSS has yet to go mainstream
- Many people still have yet to think of blogs as important learning tools, the trade journals of their space
- It’s not easy for non-early adopters to determine the credibility of a blog and other forms of user generated content
Despite this, for early adopters, a feedreader or a start-up page is essential to traversing the internet. Unfortunately, Pageflakes was unable to develop a sustainable business model and was sold to LiveUniverse for pennies on the dollar, and Netvibes has had it’s fair share of turbulence and still have yet to find a business model, despite a solid user base.
Both Netvibes and Pageflakes were trying to solve the same problem in my mind, aggregating information resources in one central repository. They attempted to make their sites more social, but there was never really a social component to these sites in my opinon. What they didn’t see in my mind was the Friendfeeds, Profilactics, and Lifestream.FMs of the world that are using RSS in creative ways, that are much more social with comments, distribution, and forming groups. Did Netvibes/Pageflakes miss out on this opportunity? Or would this just be another feature that would have been just as hard to monetize? I don’t have the answers, but it seems that Netvibes and Pageflakes were in the drivers seat to make RSS and syndication more mainstream and may have missed out on an opportunity to grow volume in the marketplace.