The New York Times announced its own personal startpage today called My Times. My Times (ala Pageflakes & Netvibes) is NYTimes’ play on a news-focused personal startpage. Featuring the look and feel of the NYTimes website, it’s a free service that focuses on capturing the homepages of existing NYTimes readers with a collage of news from your selected sources and some web app integration. The First Look blog provides an official introduction.
As I’ve said in the past, the one-upping scenario market leaders Netvibes, Pageflakes and iGoogle have created has made it tough for anyone to just come along and come up with an innovative idea — and as you’ll see, the NYTimes is no exception.
In the traditional AJAX-style, everything on My Times is easily moveable and great on the UI side. The initial setup (which can be changed as drastically as you like) features Journalists’ Picks, stories from the NYTimes homepage, most-emailed NYTimes articles, top stories from Yahoo! News and BBC News, Bookmarks, Weather, Movie Showtimes, a Flickr Browser, and Stock Market quotes. All elements are fairly standard with personal startpages with a perhaps added NYTimes ‘twist, and nothing seems too impressive so far.
Delving a bit deeper and away from the me-too features, I like the idea of their Journalists Picks’. Featured are fairly high-profile writers, and whether your interest is in technology, books, or food, you’ve bound to have bumped into some of the names and it’s very likely that their opinions are ones you trust. So, clicking on David Pogue — our favourite technology columnist — brings up the setup of his startpage, which gives a pretty good selection of the kind of things a journalist like himself reads. Of course, doing likewise on other writers yields the same, so if you’re not sure where to start and what kind of content to have, the journalists’ present a good selection.
The other non-me-too features I like, admittedly which are not much to choose from, are small, useful additions the ‘Times has added to make it easier for non tech-savvy folks. For example, the way you can resize text with a handy slider in the corner is a small but useful addition for the elderly/getting-there readers. Another addition I like is the way they’ve made it really easy to add content, pages, and sources, something that is tedious with other startpages.
Overall, I have to agree with the general vibe in the blogosphere. There’s not a lot of innovation, and it’s a bit too late arrived as a product. An year or two ago, and it’d have had some merit, but with established players in the market, it hardly comes off as a couple-generations-behind younger brother. However, I’d give it some credit seeing that it’s the NYTimes, it’s likely to attract a lot of attention from the mainstream/non-tech-savvy, and it’s mediocre enough to get by.