So the news today is that Netscape is launching a "Digg killer". (Note how the entry used to be say "Digg-like site" instead of "Digg killer". Gotta love the sensational headlines!)
OK, ok, I went to www.netscape.com this morning, and I was shocked to find out that it had a Google Pagerank of 9. Wow. Who still goes to Netscape? No one I know ever thinks about Netscape. Shows you how much I know about stuff.
Tech Crunch has some interesting things to say about it, but I think it's missing a big part about it. It's not really about the features or even the number of page views that Netscape.com gets. The interesting thing about this launch is that AOL/Netscape have the opportunity to reach a completely different audience than Digg. The editorial panel (who are getting slammed by the community purists out there) can guide the stories to of more popular interest than geeky interest. And that's very important. If they can get the mainstream market to vote on stories, and build a community around that, then they have something.
Check out Digg anytime and the top stories are the same: product launches, tech company announcements, or freakish stories of the truly weird. I know it might just totally suck, but people want to see stories about Britney's raging hormones and Brangelina's baby.
Despite the popularity of Digg in certain circles, the vast majority of people have not heard of it. And with the demographic that Digg currently has, it will never have the mass appeal that will attract the non-geeks out there. That's where the "evil" editorial panel is valuable: you can guide the direction of the stories, and therefore, guide the direction of the demographic that you attract. And after you build up enough of that demographic, the editorial panel can step aside and let the community do it's magic.
You know who could do it better? I think CNN.com, actually, because they have the stories, they have the offline brand, and they also have a 9 Pagerank. And strangely, they also are owned by AOL-Time Warner. Hmmm…. Conspiracy?
I think you may be overlooking several important points:
1. Netscape sucks
2. Their videos don’t play in flash, like YouTubo or Google Video or any other modern, god-fearing website. I’m not going to install the Mozilla ActiveX plugin to watch clips from TimeWarner TV.
3. Can I rate stories? Can I discuss stories? I’m assuming the answer is yes to both, I just can’t find those options among the 18000 GODDAMN LINKS that are on every page in their site.
4. All the content keeps you within their portal. Okay, fine, they want all of your advertising dollars. But can they provide enough good content within their walls to make it worthwhile?
Digg’s interface is plain as toast. Obviously it is forever in the tech ghetto, but it updates frequently, discussions are instantly accessible, and participation is encouraged. Also, like blogs, it leverages content that exists anywhere on the web.
On Netscape’s site, I don’t feel like I’m being encouraged to participate, I feel like I’m being encouraged to download ringtones for cheap $$$ or watch advertising or some other scam to get my money out of me. It positively *oozes* commercial product endorsement.
Also, I am hereby trademarking “YouTubo” and “YouTuba”. I think they will be very popular in the future.
1. Sure, I’ll accept that as a hypothesis. Doesn’t change the fact that they’re still a 9. 🙂
2. But they can fix that.
3. But they can fix that.
4. True, that is something that they’ll have to fight.
Here’s the thing: Netscape can copy all of Digg’s functionality and design. Digg can’t/won’t copy all of Netscape’s editors or mainstream reach (AOL is a powerful beast). And as evil as the editors may sound, if used properly, they can be very powerful.
I agree however that point #4 is a good one: Netscape will have trouble getting all the best wacky content onto their site in Internet-time (i.e., really fast). But then again, you never know; AOL is still a powerful beast.