Netvibes Offers Personal Portal Creation for Dummies

Personalized home page pioneer Netvibes is unveiling a way for anybody to become the ruler of their own “Universe,” Web 2.0 style.

The company on Tuesday announced the beta launch of Netvibes Universe, a system that allows the creation and online publication of personal Web portals (which Netvibes calls “Universes,”) that can include numerous types of media, widgets and other content.

To demonstrate the possibilities, Netvibes will on Tuesday night demo Universes created by and for more than 100 companies and celebrities that it describes as “pilot content partners.” The list of pilot Universes includes portals from CBS, CNN Money, Forbes.com, LATimes.com, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Time Inc., USA Today and WashingtonPost.com. The list of celebrity sites is even longer.

The Paris-based company will “soon” announce the availability of tools that will enable all Netvibes users to make their own Universes “and use them as outlets to express, showcase and share their complete Web life with others,” the company stated.

Content Galore

A Netvibes Universe site goes beyond the traditional personal homepage in that it can include RSS (really simple syndication) feeds, Web sites, podcasts, videos, blogs, photos and Web services including del.icio.us, Digg, eBay, Flickr, MySpace, YouTube and more, said Netvibes.

In 2005, Netvibes revolutionized home page creation by allowing people to augment their sites with live feeds, the type of automatically updated content normally found on big Web portals such as Yahoo.

With Netvibes Universe, a free service, Netvibes gives users the potential to make their own personal Web portals instead of just augmented personalized Web sites. Netvibes Universe sites can include content from all sorts of publishers, even competitors such as Yahoo and Google. No high-level Web design or programming skills are needed since site building is based on basic drag, drop and move functionality, according to the company.

Auto Pilot

The Universe idea allows users to go “beyond the blog,” said Netvibes Founder and CEO Tariq Krim, by enabling them to include live feeds that get refreshed automatically. “Imagine launching your own media company in minutes,” he stated.

The Netvibes Universe idea is “pretty amazing,” and another example of outside-the-box thinking by Web 2.0 developers, according to Enderle Group Principal Analyst Rob Enderle.

“It’s kind of rethinking the portal,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld. “It’s making the portal personal, and that will be an interesting idea for a lot of folks. It does, once again, change the game, and at the end of all this, the one thing we are seeing consistently is change. It’s not long before somebody takes a new spin on something people think is secure, like Web page hosting, and it throws the whole thing up in the air and makes us rethink it.

“People can go to your portal to find out things about you and things you like, as opposed to going to somebody else’s portal,” he continued. “It spreads out the idea of you being a destination site.”

Show Me the Money

However, what remains unclear is whether those creating Netvibes personal portals can make revenue off their portals. There is currently “no direct way” for monetizing Netvibes Universe sites, Netvibes’ spokesperson Vincent Chang told TechNewsWorld; however, he said doing so is a “possibility” for the future.

Netvibes, a company with only about 25 employees but more than 10 million users in 150 countries, gets revenue from affiliate partnerships with some of the content providers, such as Ask.com and Snap.com, said Chang.

Currently, Netvibes is “just focused on having free content for consumers (and) paving the way for the future,” noted Chang. “The future will have possibilities for businesses to monetize their portals.”

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