I was surprised to learn of Benchmark's investment in Germany's PageFlakes today. Have they not seen WindowsLive? Same goes for France's NetVibes. Like many in this web 2.0 neck of the woods I get these tidbits from TechCrunch, and Mike A's take is here. He calls it an "Ajax Desktop War." Hmmm, "war" might be overstating things a tad. Both are cool and perhaps even elegant Ajax implementations, but they look like a product to me, not a business. These web services already seem like a commodity to me. There was one called Octopus or something like it back in the bubble too - I wonder what ever happened to that?
The net, net of it is that Google, Yahoo, AOL, IAC, Fox, etc will all no doubt want this customizable feature set for consumers, and my expectation is that they are either already doing it themselves, or will buy these companies and others that will likely pop-up over the next several months. Maybe these were just built to flip out of the chute. We'll see.
One thing is for sure, these two offerings (and Windows Live) are a lot more compelling than the rebranded Claria's "PersonalWeb". What a disaster that appears to be. I got a demo at Ad-Tech and couldn't believe they were going forward with it with all of the options already surfacing such as the aforementioned Vibes, Flakes and Live. The damn thing has ads in every module and still installs software to monitor your behavior to - you guessed it - better target the ads. It's far less sneaky/sleazy than what they used to do (really profitably by the way) ...but I predict their "PersonalWeb" will fail given the less cluttered, less invasive alternatives such as the one that it appears Benchmark will be backing. Here's more about Claria's policies as an FYI.
That said, and given Attensa's focus on RSS, Attention, and business...we agree philosophically with the approach of the user experience these Ajax desktops deliver but feel there is more potent application in business, by leveraging attention, and giving genuine value back to the "knowledge worker" rather than just delivering more relevant ads.