I’ve been a proponent and user of internet start pages for a long, long time. My primary start page is a handmade one here. All of my desktop browsers are set to start and open new tabs there. I even have a mobile version, which I rarely use, simply because almost all mobile computing is done via apps (no one surfs the web on a phone; those who claim to are kidding, confused or lying).
I also use a third party start page for news, weather, sports, stocks, etc., because it is much easier to add widgets to third party start pages than to write them yourself. I used My Yahoo for years. Eventually, Yahoo’s neglect of My Yahoo (as a part of its apparent overall policy of neglecting every useful part of its web-based assets) and my growing dependence on Google, led me to largely abandon My Yahoo for iGoogle. Just in time for Google to announce the discontinuance of iGoogle, in what I interpret to be another doomed attempt at forcing users to embrace Google+.
Is this an opportunity for Yahoo?
There are a few alternatives out there. Netvibes is one that people are talking about. I’ve had a Netvibes account since the early beta, but I had to recover my credentials to see what my page looks like (e.g., I never use it).
That page screams 5 years ago, but with a little effort I could make it look and work OK. But My Yahoo could be so much better, if Yahoo would spend a fraction of the time nurturing it that it spends hiring and firing CEOs.
My biggest criteria for a third party start page used to be which one was better. Now, it’s which one will likely exist longer. On the one hand, any start page could be trashed or bought or ignored into complete obsolescence at any moment. On the other, sometimes a market that everyone is abandoning is an opportunity in disguise.
Particularly if you have a built-in advantage.
Neither Google nor Netvibes is a content producer. Thus, most content they serve up is third party content. Yahoo, on the other hand, seems- at least at the moment- to be interested in producing content:
Levinsohn also will expand Yahoo’s effort to create its own news coverage of big events, such as the Olympics and national elections.
That fact, combined with the ad-serving potential and stickiness of an online home-base, sounds like an opportunity. Create a place people will actually want to use. Fill it up with your content and that of your content partners, sell some ads. Make some money. Reclaim your mojo. And so on.
For this to work, Yahoo has to (a) be paying attention, (b) recognize this opportunity, (c) seize the opportunity now, not months from now, and (d) allocate the resources to make it awesome. Sounds like a long shot, but that’s better than no shot. I hope Yahoo gives it a try. I’d love to love My Yahoo.