Does the world need another start page? The makers of freshly launched miie obviously think you bet!
Now quite a few German startups have been successfully exploiting two gaps in the past: the time it takes original services to come up with a German localisation and the lack of knowledge of German users about the original services in the first place. In my opinion exploiting the localisation gap is fine and makes perfect business sense. Besides rebuilding an app it usually also involves rethinking the service, adapting it to local needs, understanding the local habits, building and supporting the community and so on. Exploiting the lack of knowledge of the users maybe makes business sense too, but there are a few drawbacks (e.g. bad DNA) associated, especially if a site relies on the contributions of its users.
I don’t want to particualarly pick on miie, it is actually fresh looking and nicely executed, but it adds nothing 900 pound gorillas Netvibes or Pageflakes didn’t offer already one and a half years ago. Now of course – in terms of modules, features and functionalities – they are lightyears ahead. BigCos might get away with a lack of innovation and just aggregate features they think are en vogue (e.g. t-online teamed up with Google to provide its users with a branded start page), but startups probably should start to think about the opportunity costs of not adding anything to the mix at all.
(This article originally was written for blognation Germany. Since blognation is gone I have reposted it here)