Over the weekend I blogged that Kiko was an example of sprinkling AJAX on old ideas that had failed in the 1990s. I found an even better example from a blog post by Richard MacManus entitled Ex-Googler starts Webwag, new personalized start page where he writes

"According to Poisson, Webwag’s revenue streams will include affiliate marketing – something Netvibes is doing via Kelkoo - and B2B deals, an as yet unexplored area. Chris previously suggested that white labelling this technology is one key revenue opportunity for these firms to consider.

Poisson said: "As Web 2.0 develops over the next three three to five years, two things will remain. Firstly, everyone will have their own blog, and over 75% of people will have their own personalised start pages.

"My belief is the big search portals (My Yahoo etc) will get 50% of that market, and 50% will be taken by three to four independents.”"

Personally I think that 50% figure for independents is too ambitious. I also question his claim that 75% of people will have a start page in 3-5 years, unless you count the likes of Yahoo.com as a 'personalized start page' (actually I suspect the distinction will be moot in 5 years time).

If someone would have told me that AJAX versions of My Yahoo! (i.e. a portal homepage) except with none of the integration with a family of websites that a portal provides would be a hot startup idea I'd have laughed them out of my office. This market was saturated five years ago. The thought that adding drag & drop to a portal homepage and not having any rich integration with a family of sites is a viable business seems pretty absurd to me. The barrier to entry is pretty much zero, all you need to do is grab the Yahoo! Javascript UI library and write some code to parse RSS feeds to get started. That's besides the fact that the portal homepage is primarily a means to an end since they are there to encourage people to stick on the site and use other services (i.e. search) and not the core product in itself.

The quote that 75% of people will have a personalized start page is the best part though. As if the lack of AJAX and drag & drop is the reason that 75% of the population don't have My Yahoo!, My MSN or My AOL pages. Yeah, right. 

This reminds me of a conversation I was having with Eric Fleischman about blogging and RSS becoming mainstream yesterday. We agreed that blogging is already mainstream because everyone has a MySpace from politicians and school teachers to movie stars and DJs. On the other hand, I didn't think subscribing to feeds in a conventional aggregator would ever become used by a widespread percentage of the population. Subscribing to feeds seems cool to geeks because it solves a geek problem; having too many sources of information to keep track of and optimizing how this is done. The average person doesn't think it's cool to be able to keep track of 10 - 20 websites a day using a some tool because they aren't interested in 10 - 20 websites on a daily basis in the first place. I'm sure a light sprinkling of AJAX can solve that problem as well.

*sprinkle* *sprinkle* *sprinkle*