The war over your start page

Over the next several months I hope to have videos from all the folks who are trying to become your start page (and unseat MyYahoo, or Google’s IG, or Microsoft’s Live from your browser’s default starting point).

First up is PageFlakes. Dan Cohen, CEO of PageFlakes, sat down with me to talk about the space. Cool stuff. How will you decide on your home page? What’s your favorite place to start the day out?

I got both a demo and an interview. Dan worked at Google and has lots of interesting things to say about the space.

DEMO of PageFlakes:

[podtech content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/03/PID_010395/Podtech_PAGEFLAKES_demo.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/scobleshow/technology/1378/looking-at-pageflakes-your-new-start-page&totalTime=356000&breadcrumb=3F34K2L1]

INTERVIEW with Dan Cohen, CEO of PageFlakes.

[podtech content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/03/PID_010394/Podtech_PAGEFLAKES_interview.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/scobleshow/technology/1379/killing-portals-with-pageflakes-ceo&totalTime=1566000&breadcrumb=3F34K2L1]

Comments

  1. My home page? Easy about:blank – means I can get to where I want to as fast as possible without waiting for or being distracted by a home page loading up.

    Mind you, I do tend to type a lot of URLs into the run box (-:

  2. My home page? Easy about:blank – means I can get to where I want to as fast as possible without waiting for or being distracted by a home page loading up.

    Mind you, I do tend to type a lot of URLs into the run box (-:

  3. What John said. By a show of hands, who changes the default page to “about:blank” when launching a new browser?

    The next best start page? The default Google page. Clean, simple, to the point.

  4. What John said. By a show of hands, who changes the default page to “about:blank” when launching a new browser?

    The next best start page? The default Google page. Clean, simple, to the point.

  5. My default Web page is set to blank.

    My portal of choice is still MyYahoo. The problem with this page is that it doesn’t do a good job of letting you know when new features are available on the rest of the Yahoo property. So I occasionally need to go to http://www.yahoo.com to see what Yahoo has been doing.

    There is one Web page I always have open, GMail. Google is leveraging this fact. They are slowly enhancing the GMail page to be a portal: Chat is integrated, Web Clips run above the list of email subjects, links to Google, Calendar, and More appear in the upper left corner, and of course contextual ads are displayed on each email message.

  6. My default Web page is set to blank.

    My portal of choice is still MyYahoo. The problem with this page is that it doesn’t do a good job of letting you know when new features are available on the rest of the Yahoo property. So I occasionally need to go to http://www.yahoo.com to see what Yahoo has been doing.

    There is one Web page I always have open, GMail. Google is leveraging this fact. They are slowly enhancing the GMail page to be a portal: Chat is integrated, Web Clips run above the list of email subjects, links to Google, Calendar, and More appear in the upper left corner, and of course contextual ads are displayed on each email message.

  7. I started using Pageflakes about 6 months ago and really appreciate its community focus. I have found it significantly better than any of the other major players.

    I am particularly fond of being able to share pages that I build publicly as well as privately.

  8. I started using Pageflakes about 6 months ago and really appreciate its community focus. I have found it significantly better than any of the other major players.

    I am particularly fond of being able to share pages that I build publicly as well as privately.

  9. I actually don’t know what mine is – I removed the “home” button from my toolbar long ago. I use Opera which has session saving built in so when I start it up I see whatever I was looking at last time.

    My links toolbar is pretty full as I have a range of sites I use all the time.

  10. I actually don’t know what mine is – I removed the “home” button from my toolbar long ago. I use Opera which has session saving built in so when I start it up I see whatever I was looking at last time.

    My links toolbar is pretty full as I have a range of sites I use all the time.

  11. PageFlakes is the easiest way I’ve seen to check in to news, work parter / competitor sites, etc. all day long. Plus it’s lazy way to find out about local events.

  12. PageFlakes is the easiest way I’ve seen to check in to news, work parter / competitor sites, etc. all day long. Plus it’s lazy way to find out about local events.

  13. I hope you will be covering my personal favourite ‘Protopage’ it is really cool, none of this silly columns stuff you can have widgets anywhere any size and multiple desktops pretty smart really.
    http://www.protopage.com

    regards
    Al

  14. I hope you will be covering my personal favourite ‘Protopage’ it is really cool, none of this silly columns stuff you can have widgets anywhere any size and multiple desktops pretty smart really.
    http://www.protopage.com

    regards
    Al

  15. My telephone has a default number: every time I pick up the handset, it automatically calls a pizza place in Cleveland.

    Rather annoying, especially at dinnertime. “Illinois is outside our delivery area. Please stop calling. *click*”

  16. My telephone has a default number: every time I pick up the handset, it automatically calls a pizza place in Cleveland.

    Rather annoying, especially at dinnertime. “Illinois is outside our delivery area. Please stop calling. *click*”

  17. It’s got to be a super fast homepage for me; either about:blank or Google.

    I like the idea of pageflakes type sites, I just can’t stand the load time. Instead I use http://www.trawlr.com for my online RSS feeds and fix of tech news in a river-of-news style view (with various tags to filter the feeds).

  18. It’s got to be a super fast homepage for me; either about:blank or Google.

    I like the idea of pageflakes type sites, I just can’t stand the load time. Instead I use http://www.trawlr.com for my online RSS feeds and fix of tech news in a river-of-news style view (with various tags to filter the feeds).

  19. By the way, following one of your previous posts, it is a company that is not using LAMP, they use Microsoft’s ASP.NET and some heavily customized Microsoft AJAX.

  20. By the way, following one of your previous posts, it is a company that is not using LAMP, they use Microsoft’s ASP.NET and some heavily customized Microsoft AJAX.

  21. My home page is MSN, but it may as well be blank as I just have never bothered to change it and I never actually look at or read the content. Color me blank too. Who cares what the home page is? My Vista gadgets tell me everything I need to know on my desktop.

  22. My home page is MSN, but it may as well be blank as I just have never bothered to change it and I never actually look at or read the content. Color me blank too. Who cares what the home page is? My Vista gadgets tell me everything I need to know on my desktop.

  23. I would like something less than an about blank. Just the address bar. I don’t want a blank white screen on my desktop until i type the page.

    basically the browser shouldn’t use any real estate if there are no html elements on it.

  24. I would like something less than an about blank. Just the address bar. I don’t want a blank white screen on my desktop until i type the page.

    basically the browser shouldn’t use any real estate if there are no html elements on it.

  25. I too was an about:blank user because of the speed issue. I’m a recent Pageflakes convert because I found it to be faster than any of the other start pages. The speed is fast enough that load time is a non-issue.

  26. I too was an about:blank user because of the speed issue. I’m a recent Pageflakes convert because I found it to be faster than any of the other start pages. The speed is fast enough that load time is a non-issue.

  27. I think the space is still in its infancy. Most people still do not know what widgets are or that they can create personalized start page. For some people a blank homepage makes a lot of sense but I also think for a large mainstream user demo a customized start page is a great alternative.

    I do think Vista will educate people more and more on the widget concept and you will see people getting more comfortable in using widgets on the web, desktop, and eventually in the wireless space.

    One thing I do disagree with Dan on is his comment that widgets on the desktop are more vibrant or dynamic than on the web. That has generally been the case however with yourminis you get the same dynamic widget experience in a start page, as an embed, and on the desktop (coming soon leveraging apollo).

  28. I think the space is still in its infancy. Most people still do not know what widgets are or that they can create personalized start page. For some people a blank homepage makes a lot of sense but I also think for a large mainstream user demo a customized start page is a great alternative.

    I do think Vista will educate people more and more on the widget concept and you will see people getting more comfortable in using widgets on the web, desktop, and eventually in the wireless space.

    One thing I do disagree with Dan on is his comment that widgets on the desktop are more vibrant or dynamic than on the web. That has generally been the case however with yourminis you get the same dynamic widget experience in a start page, as an embed, and on the desktop (coming soon leveraging apollo).

  29. I like to use http://www.google.com/ig, because it gives me easy access to my Gmail and Google Calendar (I say easy, because other solutions give difficult access to Calendar, i.e. it is a pain in the behind). I have a gadget in their that gives me customizable corner bookmarks, kind of like in Gmail and Calendar and Docs; I have it set to link to Gmail, Calendar, Photos (PicasaWeb), Docs and Spreadsheets, Twitter, and Google Reader.

  30. I like to use http://www.google.com/ig, because it gives me easy access to my Gmail and Google Calendar (I say easy, because other solutions give difficult access to Calendar, i.e. it is a pain in the behind). I have a gadget in their that gives me customizable corner bookmarks, kind of like in Gmail and Calendar and Docs; I have it set to link to Gmail, Calendar, Photos (PicasaWeb), Docs and Spreadsheets, Twitter, and Google Reader.

  31. A vote for Google or about:blank here too…

    I actually have it set to Google, because there’s almost no overhead to loading; and one of the most frequent things I want to do in a new browser window is search.

  32. A vote for Google or about:blank here too…

    I actually have it set to Google, because there’s almost no overhead to loading; and one of the most frequent things I want to do in a new browser window is search.

  33. I guess those who like about:blank don’t bother with RSS feeds, weather reports, or shared calendars, because using Pageflakes, I get all of that on my home page and nothing could be easier. I had been using the Google Personalized Homepage but simply put PageFlakes blows it away, especially when it comes to collaboration. What I really like is being able to keep all my widgets on a homepage rather than on my desktop, since I like a clean desktop, but that’s just me. :)

  34. I guess those who like about:blank don’t bother with RSS feeds, weather reports, or shared calendars, because using Pageflakes, I get all of that on my home page and nothing could be easier. I had been using the Google Personalized Homepage but simply put PageFlakes blows it away, especially when it comes to collaboration. What I really like is being able to keep all my widgets on a homepage rather than on my desktop, since I like a clean desktop, but that’s just me. :)

  35. I think both NetVibes, PageFlakes and the likes are Web 1.0 companies. The lack of editorial means they can’t attract worthy sponsors (who can’t bother be associated with porn, violence, and anything that might come across), therefore all they’ll get is crappy ads. I think we have had enough of that.

  36. I think both NetVibes, PageFlakes and the likes are Web 1.0 companies. The lack of editorial means they can’t attract worthy sponsors (who can’t bother be associated with porn, violence, and anything that might come across), therefore all they’ll get is crappy ads. I think we have had enough of that.

  37. @29. “I guess those who like about:blank don’t bother with RSS feeds, weather reports, or shared calendars”

    Well… for me, it’s that the whole concept of a “home page” is a bit 1994. In 2007, I don’t find it at all useful – the web browser is such a vital tool that I open up hundreds of browser windows in a working day. And, when I open a new browser window, I’m not interested in content from a “home page” popping up each time. Rather, I open a new browser window in order to perform a task.

    As #7 said, I use “Open all in tabs”, when I want to go see a bunch of related content that I’m interested in visiting frequently.

  38. @29. “I guess those who like about:blank don’t bother with RSS feeds, weather reports, or shared calendars”

    Well… for me, it’s that the whole concept of a “home page” is a bit 1994. In 2007, I don’t find it at all useful – the web browser is such a vital tool that I open up hundreds of browser windows in a working day. And, when I open a new browser window, I’m not interested in content from a “home page” popping up each time. Rather, I open a new browser window in order to perform a task.

    As #7 said, I use “Open all in tabs”, when I want to go see a bunch of related content that I’m interested in visiting frequently.

  39. I guess those who like about:blank don’t bother with RSS feeds, weather reports, or shared calendars, because using Pageflakes, I get all of that on my home page and nothing could be easier.

    Pfft {waves hand dismissively}

    My browser doesn’t need to clutter up every new window with RSS. It lets ME decide if I want to read and when. I get weather reports via the Mk1 iBall and a Window.

    many of the sites I hit during the day are behind firewalls, so putting them as a home page would be rather useless.

  40. I guess those who like about:blank don’t bother with RSS feeds, weather reports, or shared calendars, because using Pageflakes, I get all of that on my home page and nothing could be easier.

    Pfft {waves hand dismissively}

    My browser doesn’t need to clutter up every new window with RSS. It lets ME decide if I want to read and when. I get weather reports via the Mk1 iBall and a Window.

    many of the sites I hit during the day are behind firewalls, so putting them as a home page would be rather useless.

  41. I guess those who like about:blank don’t bother with RSS feeds, weather reports, or shared calendars”

    Isn’t that what tabbed browsing is for? I prefer looking at a specific page for a specific task. I just find these start pages that try to be all things to all people ultimately end up skimping on everything. It’s like walking around Costco and getting the free food samples.

  42. I guess those who like about:blank don’t bother with RSS feeds, weather reports, or shared calendars”

    Isn’t that what tabbed browsing is for? I prefer looking at a specific page for a specific task. I just find these start pages that try to be all things to all people ultimately end up skimping on everything. It’s like walking around Costco and getting the free food samples.

  43. Definitely stick with pageflakes for their wide choice of widgets (flakes), page sharing and clean interface.

  44. Definitely stick with pageflakes for their wide choice of widgets (flakes), page sharing and clean interface.

  45. My start page for the last 5 years has been Daily Rotation. It provides all the headlines most tech people would be interested in, and it’s very simple and fast. Although it uses Ajax for some organizational functions, it doesn’t have a lot of web 2.0 toys, just news. For those who prefer blank pages for their simplicity and speed, http://www.dailyrotation.com might be a better choice, just because it has content you might want to be informed of when you first get on the machine in the morning…

  46. My start page for the last 5 years has been Daily Rotation. It provides all the headlines most tech people would be interested in, and it’s very simple and fast. Although it uses Ajax for some organizational functions, it doesn’t have a lot of web 2.0 toys, just news. For those who prefer blank pages for their simplicity and speed, http://www.dailyrotation.com might be a better choice, just because it has content you might want to be informed of when you first get on the machine in the morning…

  47. For those who prefer blank pages for their simplicity and speed, http://www.dailyrotation.com might be a better choice, just because it has content you might want to be informed of when you first get on the machine in the morning…

    The information I want to know when I get on my machine at work in the morning lives on internal Nagios and Cacti servers unreachable from the internet. This is true of quite a few IT people.

  48. For those who prefer blank pages for their simplicity and speed, http://www.dailyrotation.com might be a better choice, just because it has content you might want to be informed of when you first get on the machine in the morning…

    The information I want to know when I get on my machine at work in the morning lives on internal Nagios and Cacti servers unreachable from the internet. This is true of quite a few IT people.

  49. Developers borrow one another’s ideas all the time, and that’s okay. But that pageflakes thing is such a blatant rip-off of windows live it’s offensive. It might be forgiveable if they actually innovated something useful.

  50. Developers borrow one another’s ideas all the time, and that’s okay. But that pageflakes thing is such a blatant rip-off of windows live it’s offensive. It might be forgiveable if they actually innovated something useful.

  51. Dude: Live actually was based on several other competitors out there. If I remember right PageFlakes came before Live.com. Might be wrong about that, but there certainly were other pages of this type out before Live.com — ask Scott Isaacs. He built the framework underneath Live.com and was certainly influenced by other start page frameworks that were out there at the time.

  52. Dude: Live actually was based on several other competitors out there. If I remember right PageFlakes came before Live.com. Might be wrong about that, but there certainly were other pages of this type out before Live.com — ask Scott Isaacs. He built the framework underneath Live.com and was certainly influenced by other start page frameworks that were out there at the time.

  53. Wow! What a diversity in start pages. I noted recently that my start page is now 10 years old. I created a page of links that I visit regularly that I launch from. Over the years it has been modified as sites change, interests change, get some info by RSS, etc.

    I do not expect this to change and doubt I would ever use a commercial site as a start page.

  54. Wow! What a diversity in start pages. I noted recently that my start page is now 10 years old. I created a page of links that I visit regularly that I launch from. Over the years it has been modified as sites change, interests change, get some info by RSS, etc.

    I do not expect this to change and doubt I would ever use a commercial site as a start page.

  55. I think the biggest factor for homepage selection is speed, nobody can beat about:blank for speed. Although i recently discovered another highspeed homepage officialhomepage.org. IMO its comparable to about:blank because most of the time it loads from the browser cache.

  56. I think the biggest factor for homepage selection is speed, nobody can beat about:blank for speed. Although i recently discovered another highspeed homepage officialhomepage.org. IMO its comparable to about:blank because most of the time it loads from the browser cache.

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  59. Yeah, for quite a while I just used a local html document which was just a list of commonly-used links. I’ve since moved most of that stuff into folders on the bookmark bar. Now I don’t even bother changing the default start page: Firefox goes to the google/firefox start page, Camino I have set to google, and Safari goes to apple.com. I set new tabs to open to about:blank regardless of the home setting.

    Most of the time I leave Gmail and Google Reader open in tabs and across sessions. I find “customized start pages” with lots of widgets and cruft just as initally attractive and as ultimately useless as Apple’s Dashboard.

    The whole concept of a dedicated “start page” seems a bit archaic to me. This whole concept hasn’t really advanced much at all since I last tried My Yahoo, except for fancy Ajax interfaces and RSS feeds. Somehow I’m not very excited, although judging from the interview they seem to understand that this kind of service is not for everyone. If they can make a business out of it, more power to ‘em.

  60. Yeah, for quite a while I just used a local html document which was just a list of commonly-used links. I’ve since moved most of that stuff into folders on the bookmark bar. Now I don’t even bother changing the default start page: Firefox goes to the google/firefox start page, Camino I have set to google, and Safari goes to apple.com. I set new tabs to open to about:blank regardless of the home setting.

    Most of the time I leave Gmail and Google Reader open in tabs and across sessions. I find “customized start pages” with lots of widgets and cruft just as initally attractive and as ultimately useless as Apple’s Dashboard.

    The whole concept of a dedicated “start page” seems a bit archaic to me. This whole concept hasn’t really advanced much at all since I last tried My Yahoo, except for fancy Ajax interfaces and RSS feeds. Somehow I’m not very excited, although judging from the interview they seem to understand that this kind of service is not for everyone. If they can make a business out of it, more power to ‘em.

  61. Pageflakes ROCKS! Its simple to use, collects all the websites i like to visit to start my day, and i can share it. I like it!

  62. Pageflakes ROCKS! Its simple to use, collects all the websites i like to visit to start my day, and i can share it. I like it!

  63. You might also be interested in a brand new start page available called Funky Homepage (http://www.FunkyHomepage.com). It’s comprised mainly of Google gadgets (as well as Gadgets from other sources), live news feeds (with your choice of news provider), daily Bushisms, daily jokes, horoscopes, videos, weather (up to 5 locations), interactive calendar, Google calendar viewer (for up to 5 Google calendars), comic strips and lots more besides. It also lets you choose your own search engine, colour scheme, etc.

    Unlike many of the other personalised start pages available, there’s no need to create an account and it’s all already set up for you, with the most popular gadgets organised by category and sub-category. So there’s virtually no setting-up work required by the user, making it ideal for the mainstream audience and those (like me) who can’t be bothered to do all the work of setting up their own page. More adventurous (and less lazy) users can choose to add their own Google gadgets and RSS feeds, but most people just use the gadgets and tools provided.

    Unlike Netvibes, PageFlakes and all the other AJAX powered home pages, Funky Homepage does not use a drag and drop interface. Instead it allows you to select from a drop-down list of the most “popular” gadgets and feeds – “popular” according to the Google gadgets most popular list, that is. As such, it’s not really intended to compete with the flexibility of Netvibes and PageFlakes, but instead is intended to address a gap in the market for those who want something a bit more funky than Google or Yahoo, but without all the setting up required of Netvibes and Pageflakes. So only the most popular gadgets are offered. Although it still maintains a large degree of flexibility for the more adventurous users, allowing them to enter their own feeds and gadgets, should they wish. Whether you like it or hate it, at least it offers an alternative from the plethora of AJAX-powered homepages that are now available.

    It’s free to use and you can check it out at http://www.funkyhomepage.com

  64. You might also be interested in a brand new start page available called Funky Homepage (http://www.FunkyHomepage.com). It’s comprised mainly of Google gadgets (as well as Gadgets from other sources), live news feeds (with your choice of news provider), daily Bushisms, daily jokes, horoscopes, videos, weather (up to 5 locations), interactive calendar, Google calendar viewer (for up to 5 Google calendars), comic strips and lots more besides. It also lets you choose your own search engine, colour scheme, etc.

    Unlike many of the other personalised start pages available, there’s no need to create an account and it’s all already set up for you, with the most popular gadgets organised by category and sub-category. So there’s virtually no setting-up work required by the user, making it ideal for the mainstream audience and those (like me) who can’t be bothered to do all the work of setting up their own page. More adventurous (and less lazy) users can choose to add their own Google gadgets and RSS feeds, but most people just use the gadgets and tools provided.

    Unlike Netvibes, PageFlakes and all the other AJAX powered home pages, Funky Homepage does not use a drag and drop interface. Instead it allows you to select from a drop-down list of the most “popular” gadgets and feeds – “popular” according to the Google gadgets most popular list, that is. As such, it’s not really intended to compete with the flexibility of Netvibes and PageFlakes, but instead is intended to address a gap in the market for those who want something a bit more funky than Google or Yahoo, but without all the setting up required of Netvibes and Pageflakes. So only the most popular gadgets are offered. Although it still maintains a large degree of flexibility for the more adventurous users, allowing them to enter their own feeds and gadgets, should they wish. Whether you like it or hate it, at least it offers an alternative from the plethora of AJAX-powered homepages that are now available.

    It’s free to use and you can check it out at http://www.funkyhomepage.com

  65. What John said. By a show of hands, who changes the default page to “about:blank” when launching a new browser?

    The next best start page? The default Google page. Clean, simple, to the point.

  66. What John said. By a show of hands, who changes the default page to “about:blank” when launching a new browser?

    The next best start page? The default Google page. Clean, simple, to the point.

  67. I actually have it set to Google, because there’s almost no overhead to loading; and one of the most frequent things I want to do in a new browser window is search.

  68. I actually have it set to Google, because there’s almost no overhead to loading; and one of the most frequent things I want to do in a new browser window is search.