What’s the business model for a start page like NETVIBES?


I was wondering about the future of Netvibes (and other start pages).

What is their business model ? How they will earn money ?
Why asking ? Well, when the first money will run out (15 milions US$ for Netvibes) how can a one company-one service survive ? And if it does not, where I am going to move all my pages, reeders, feeds, tabs that day by day I have added to it ?

So here is a first round of ideas...

Specialists and observers think that for the kind of services offered by Netvibes and competitors there are few possibilities:
Pete Cashmore from Mashable thinks of : " subscriptions, partnerships and licensing".
So here is my list:

1) subscription:
you pay to use your page... humm not very tempting if competition is large and most of internet is still free.
A competitor, Goowy, has declared in July 2006 in their Forum: "We will always have a free goowy offering, however we will start to offer premium services and a small business hosted / enterprise version to build revenue for the company."

2) partnership:
in this case, the start page will charge transaction fees to a selection of "partners" business.
You could imagine a business, say Ebay, paying a fee for transaction "born" in a start page.
On the other way, the page is just importing a service not creating a traffic or an audience.

3) licensing:
this time, the concept is sold to small business or "Large organizations" to let them implement an "official dynamic starting page". I can imagine a Financial services House with lots of branches presenting by the intranet to all staff an unique starting page with all "official data updated", "official email and rss" and yet a small possibility for the user to adapt it at its own taste and screen.
That solution would be a "low profile" as the page brand should dissapear replaced by the "official" one.

4) advertising:
I agree with Pete : "Whether ajax start pages can support an ad-based model remains to be seen, but Microsoft and Google could probably pull it off" and more Google than MS...
I think, that for a very good service for a start page, a text line advertsing or a small ad screen would be acceptable by the majority of users.
In that case, data mining will be foundamental in offering to advertisers buyers profiles even more precise than the ones offered by Google (if it does not offer the same level of service)

5) selling out to Big Player:
Well a probable future for the bests.
As a result, the financing of the service is no more based on its self but on the possible synergies. That could mean: Advertising or more "controlled service" with less choices available.
Let's say that Google gets Netvibes, then the email module will show only Gmail, the map module will show only Google Map and so on... Of course you could add your own API but how many could do it alone ?

6) a mix free + suscription:
If the start page can go also on Mobile (and I am sure it will) then it will be able to charge for the subscription or data sending as the Mobile industry is already doing with success.
I agree with Russel Beatty : "(Mobile) Companies every day have no qualms about charging 25 cents to send 160 characters of data from one person to another, or have no problems charging $3.00 for a 10kb .gif image or a bad .midi version of a popular song, or even up to $10.00 for a small Java clone of Tetris - a 20 year old game. Unlike the web world, the mobile world is accustomed to charging for every thing that has the slightest bit of value".
The Web side of the start page will stay free and returns will come with the Mobile side of it.

My guess for Netvibes:
Option 5) selling out before end 2007 or option 6) after

Here what Tariq KRIM declared in their blog: "also, i'd just like to reiterate that netvibes will remain free of charge."

here a list of good discussions on the subject:

to be continued...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I posted mine! I'm so excited about this. Thanks for hosting it! Add