Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Netvibes Puts Web Surfers in Control

Most of us who work at desks all day like to have all of our useful tools in one place, both figuratively and literally. From actual desktops full of paper to virtual desktops full of icons to browsers bulging with bookmarks, we like everything where we can get to it easily. Enter Netvibes.

Netvibes offers its own version of an all-in-one-place solution, and if you’re an online business looking for a new way to reach potential customers, you just might want to pay attention. But first, let me give you a little background.

Netvibes was founded in September 2005 by Tariq Krim. The France-based company has been adding new features like there’s no tomorrow, as a glance at its blog would quickly reveal. The company has at least ten million users in more than 150 countries. They’re attracted by the possibility of simplifying much of their web life onto a single home page.

As the company explains, “Netvibes lets individuals assemble all in one place their favorite websites, blogs, email accounts, social networks, search engines, instant messengers, photos, videos, podcasts, widgets, and everything else they enjoy on the web.” Not only is it all in one place, but in true web 2.0 fashion, users can easily share it with their friends. Granted, this isn’t exactly new; web portals have been around forever, and users have been able to customize their views of Yahoo, Google, and other sites for years. So what makes Netvibes different?

You don’t realize it right away because the home page has so much stuff on it (just waiting for your custom touch), but then it hits you: no ads. Not even one. You may see corporate logos, but those are attached to items such as news feed widgets – and it would look a little strange if your news feed from Reuters didn’t have the Reuters logo on it, wouldn’t it?

Is that truly the company’s policy? “We break all the rules,” explains Krim in an interview with Wired. Firms that want to reach Netvibers have to give them something useful – no mere ad hyping the virtues of the company or its products will do. For instance, if eBay wanted to show Netvibers the extent of its auctions, it couldn’t simply put ads next to related items; it would have to build an auction-tracking module, and it just might find that someone else who found a need for such a module had gotten there first.