Thursday, August 14, 2008

Personalized Homepage Industry: Netvibes vs. Pageflakes

Netvibes and Pageflakes are web portals that serve as personalized web pages similar to iGoogle, MyMsn, and MyYahoo. Recently, I signed up for Netvibes and Pageflakes as part of my blog marketing efforts. The following are my initial impressions of both services:


Netvibes allows you to have both a private personalized home page and a public personalized home page. You can view my public personalize home page here. In addition to letting you move your content around, you can also modify the column width which is something Pageflakes does not let you do. Netvibes is fun and easy to use because the "add content" link and "search widgets" are easy to find. Finally, whether I will be compelled to return to the service is still to be determined.


It took me a long time to figure out that if I want to add something to my Pageflakes' home page that I needed to click the "Menu" circle in the upper right hand corner. Also, I was unable to figure out whether I can create a public personalized home page. Further, Pageflakes has a set of content called "Pagecasts". What are those? I don't know because I did not spend the time to figure out what this new metaphor meant. Moreover, Pageflakes has a search box that shows Google's search results for the entire web instead of search results for content on Pageflakes. Finally, it took me a long time to find the "search Pageflakes" page.


Both suffer from widget overload. That is, both Netvibes and Pageflakes offer an overwhelming number of widgets that can be added to your personalized homepage. Netvibes mitigates this issue with an "Essential Widgets" category. Pageflakes mitigates this issue by providing a larger viewing area when exploring widget categories.

In the battle between Netvibes and Pageflakes, I give the edge to Netvibes because it was intuitive and easy to use right from the beginning. Further, it won the all important "how do I add the Olympic Medal Count widget" test. In the Internet world of infinite distractions, ease of use is very important. Without ease of use, users will lose interest and move on (e.g., as was the case with me and Pageflakes).

Porter’s Five Forces

Porter’s Five Forces are examined to determine the attractiveness of the personalized homepage industry and, thus, to ascertain Netvibes and Pageflakes' odds for success.

Threat of New Entrants. The threat of new entrants is low because barriers to entry include high capital cost, economies of scale (e.g., experienced by Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft), distribution channels from complementary products (e.g., e-mail, chat), proprietary technology, and high levels of industry expertise needed to create a scalable web site. In addition, building brand awareness and brand strength is challenging because metaphorically intuitive domains names are costly to acquire. Thus, it is very hard for new players to enter the market.

Business Rivalry. Business rivalry (i.e., competition) is high because the big three (i.e., Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft) are strong players in this industry. In addition, personalized homepages are a commodity at this point because they are not difficult to create and are a part of many social networking services. Specifically, most social networking services provide a customized home page that mashes up content from their site with content from other sites (e.g., Facebook + Facebook applications).

Supplier Power. The suppliers in the personalized homepage industry are web sites that refer new users and/or integrate directly with the personalized homepage. The big three have a strong foundation to work from since they can advertise their personalized homepage service from their other services (e.g., e-mail, search). However, there are many services looking to integrate with personalized home pages (e.g., FriendFeed, blogs, news organizations) so there are plenty of opportunities for new synergies. Thus, supplier power is medium.

Buyer Power. Buyers are the users of personalized homepage services. Buyer power is medium because there are plenty of options to choose from but switching costs are high. For example, I am highly unlikely to stop using my MyYahoo personalized homepage because I have too much content to transfer over into another service. Thus, using another service would only supplement my MyYahoo usage.

Threat of Substitutes. The threat of substitutes for PC/laptop based personalized homepages is high because personalized homepages for your mobile phone may reduce the need for a PC/laptop personalized homepage.

Attractiveness of the Personalized Homepage Industry

The attractiveness of personalized homepage industry is mixed because on the positive side threat of new entrants is low, supplier power is medium, and buyer power is medium. On the negative side, threat of substitutes is high and business rivalry is high. What I did not research was whether the personalized homepage market is growing, shrinking, or staying the same (more on that in a minute).

Both Netvibes and Pageflakes are flashier and more seductive than the offerings by the big three. However, I believe both are fighting an unwinnable up-hill battle against Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Googles' competing products because the big three offer complementary services and maintain strong brand recognition. On the other hand, both Netvibes and Pageflakes have survived to live into their fourth year so maybe the personalized homepage market is large enough to support three big players and two smaller players?!?

1 comment:

  1. you said: "personalized homepages are a commodity at this point because they are not difficult to create" in the Business Rivalry category

    pehaps you could teach me how...
    ok i got your point, i just think its amazing and far for my knowledge status