There’s a bit of a boring trend in the internet world at the moment. It seems that Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have given up on coming up with new ideas, and instead just keep copying each other with every new product that gets released. It started with each company trying to outdo each other with their search engines and since then there’s been online maps, online books, online advertising, etc, etc… And now it’s the personalised home pages – this is something that Yahoo has had for a long time with their My Yahoo pages, and MSN has had a personalised page for a while now too. But since Google brought out their swishy home page, with drag and drop content, live feeds, and inbox view, now Microsoft is jumping on the bandwagon by copying Google’s page – even the layout and controls are eerily similar.
The problem with these three companies, is that the press will jump through hoops to report on the smallest announcement each one has to offer. The events get super-hyped and then become a super-let down too. Look at the Google/Open Office announcement, and more recently the Microsoft Windows Live announcement. Windows Live is a good example of the other current trend that every new product has to have the word Beta stapled to it. That apart Microsoft launched a home page/web portal that didn’t work in Firefox and hardly worked in IE. I like the way that gadgets can be developed to put on the home page, but all the ones I’ve tested haven’t worked yet.
For those in the know (Scoble calls them influentials) there are heaps of other, smaller companies that offer the same products as the big guns, but these often go unnoticed. A great example of such a company is Netvibes (www.netvibes.com) – these guys do a personalised home page that in some respects is heaps better than any of the others. It has some amazing Ajax at work to make the whole usability exprerience really pleasing. I would seriously recommend that everyone looks at Netvibes (and have a read through their blog too,) I think you’ll agree that it’s a clear winner!