Netvibes, one of the first companies to offer homepages that you can personalize, is outsourcing its service. It is handing over its technology to publishers, so that they can let their users personalize pages on their sites.
So far, large companies like Google and the New York Times have had the luxury to offer users a way to personalize home pages at their sites (through their products iGoogle and My Times, respectively). Netvibes now lets any company, no matter how small, do the same. By giving publishers a way to keep readers engaged at their sites, NetVibes is also seeking a way to make money. It isn’t offering any specifics on pricing, but it will charge according to the size of the publisher using the product.
Perhaps the most attractive feature of the product, called “Premium Universe,” is that sites using it will have full control over content and branding. They can put advertising on the personalized pages, for example, so that their users can personalize a portion of the page but be subject to certain things that the publishers want them to see.
The move comes at a time when Netvibes’ own traffic appears to have tapered off. It says it has more than 10 million users a month personalized homepages at Netvibes.com, a number the company has used for months now. It says its traffic is growing, but other reports suggest its market share has stagnated. There are dozens of other companies offering a similar way to personalize homepages. All of the sites sites let you pull in information from any source, through widgets. For example, you can track weather on one part of your page, your stock picks on another, and your CNN headlines on yet another. While people can do this from Netvibes.com, chances are most people will not have heard of Netvibes, and that they’d be more likely to start personalizing a page from their favorite retailer or news site.
Indeed, Netvibes, based in Paris, has kicked off its service with two French newsapers, Le Figaro and Les Echos, as customers. Tagged, a fast-growing social network, also has a demo version of the Netvibes start page available on its site.
Netvibes appears to have realized that its technology is now commoditized, and that it can benefit from installation of its service on more popular websites. It also has been struggling to find a way to make money.
The move is just the latest by Netvibes intended to make its service more flexible: At the end of August, Netvibes introduced a mobile version of its service.