Will Netvibes Widgetize Businesses Online? – Freddy Mini, CEO

netvibes

Before meeting Freddy Mini, CEO of Netvibes, I thought that Netvibes was a fancy feed reader. At least that was what I got out of the service when I tried it out a few months (years?) back. Now I understand why Netvibes is so much more than that, and hopefully, after reading this article/watching this video, you will understand it too (if you don’t already).

Netvibes.com is like an iGoogle, i.e. a customizable Web portal. Netvibes main difference with iGoogle is that:

  1. It is not Google
  2. It allows many more customization features: page title, colors, choice of search engine, choice o f widgets, widget customization, tab customization…

netvibes

To add content to my page, a smart wizard can kick things of by asking me a few questions about my interests, or I can browse the Netvibes’ widget directory, which contains almost 200,000 widgets. Some widgets are feeds form popular Websites such as Techcrunch, the NYT, the WashPost and so on, but other widgets are my gmail inbox, Twitter stream, Facebook profile. Once I install those widgets, I just sign in, and I am in permanent contact with all my contacts across all social networks.

That was part 1 of Netvibes. Now if you go to eco.netvibes.com, you cann search for widgets, and you can create widgets. I created the HyveUp widget for example, that I can post on my blog, and submit it to the Netvibes directory for others to find it.

As a publisher, it is in my interest to seek a wider distribution outlet for my content. However, out of the 200,000 widgets in the Netvibes directory, chances are I will be the only one who will have my widget installed on my homepage. This is where Netvibes created a first revenue stream. I can pay (on a CPI basis – cost per install) to appear on top of search results in the Netvibes directory of widgets. Freddy Mini reveals in the video how much is the price for this premium placement opportunity. With Netvibes, you do not pay for clicks, you pay for readers.

While this is all very interesting and smart, this is just the tip of the Netvibes’ iceberg.

Netvibes nurtures the belief that personalization is the starting point of engagement, and offers its engagement technology to brands. The Premium Universe product is an opportunity for any company to re-create the Netvibes experience on their homepage. An example of this is The Daily Influence, a Ogilvy Website with a Netvibes interface. Let’s say I like the Daily Influence (which I do), I can sign in with my Netvibes credentials, and start personalizing the homepage my own way. Or I can grab the widgets I like and put them in my personal Netvibes page.

In other words, I am now in full control of my Web experience.

For Ogilvy, using Netvibes really is just a branding operation (and maybe they control the content in some of those widgets). But what if Bank Of America’s homepage was powered by Netvibes? What if I could go to BofA’s Website, grab my account’s widget, and stick it in my personal homepage? Well technically, it is possible: Netvibes’ second product for businesses is Netvibes for Enterprise, a behind-the-firewall software that could enable BofA to pull its data from its servers and serve it Netvibes-style to its customers.

Of course, the BofA story is a fictional scenario… But it makes an awful lot of sense. One thing is worth mentioning that makes Netvibes’ widget distribution model more solid: a Netvibes’ widget is compatible with Apple’s dashboard, iGoogle, Opera, Windows Vista and Windows Live. Netvibes doesn’t want to be the unique widget-builder out there. Netvibes wants to be the gateway for companies to widgetize their business.

Freddy Mini On Netvibes And Individuals’ Personal Information

netvibes

I visited the Netvibes‘ office a few weeks ago to interview the CEO Freddy Mini. As usual, when there is something I like in the interview, but I know it is not going to make through the editing, I quickly render it and post it on HyveUp.

In this part of the interview, I asked Freddy Mini if Netvibes could offer a similar service that PageOnce offers. This question came to my mind simply because the two companies have a product that looks very similar (a page with a bunch of widgets basically), even though the service they offer is completely different.

I find his answer extremely interesting, and very related to where Netvibes is probably heading towards: Becoming a trusted provider of distributed content for organizations and individuals alike.

Netvibes is creating this trust by building an extremely transparent and open-source content distribution technology. Instead of pushing individuals to share their personal information with Netvibes on their site, the company opens up its platform for organizations to adopt their technology and make individuals’ personal information available through their widget solutions. The whole thing is still very conceptual I think, and maybe this is not the direction that Netvibes is heading towards. But it makes an awful lot of sense to me.

ReadBurner leaderboarding shared items

readburner

While sorting through Readwriteweb, I stumbled upon some product that sounds really interesting: ReadBurner. ReadBurner simply crawls Google Reader’s shared items to rank the most shared posts. Marshall Kirkpatrick is really excited about the potential of the product and so am I.

readburner activity

iGoogle, Netvibes, Pageflakes, Bloglines, they all contribute to developing feed services in a user-friendly way. We see feeds expanding beyond the geek sphere, and becoming must-have features on social networks. Facebook has grown thanks in part to their social mini-feeds, a feature that Myspace had to integrate to remain competitive.

Twitter is the perfect illustration of how feeds are becoming a central communications tool. RSS is the new coded language for interactions online. If you consider the new dominance of feeds over online social platforms, and you couple this idea with the concept of Digging as the ultimate way to share online content, then you can vision the potential of leaderboarding shared items from readers.

ReadbBurner was built by Austrian Alexander Marktl, and it is a company to keep our eyes on (mostly when they will integrate other readers in their services).