There’s a flurry of activity in the newly invigorated personalized homepage category. Within the past two weeks all the major competitors have made announcements. First, AOL launched MyNetscape, followed by the release of “universal video widgets” on Pageflakes. Then the new MyYahoo launched. Yesterday Netvibes unveiled “Coriander,” its next product release with new content modules. And tonight Google went public with “themes” (skins) for its personalized homepage (GPH).
The designs are not yet live on the site so I’m unable to link to them (here’s a screen capture from CNET).
Google is initially offering six different themes that allow users to further customize GPH. These themes occupy the top of the page — the area containing the Google search box. The content headings take on a color consistent with the theme but the majority of the page remains white.
The themes are also dynamic and change according to local weather and time of day.
The graphics seek to bring warmth and personality to GPH. The new themes, which will likely grow in number over time, do accomplish that goal in my opinion. The other competitors, including MyYahoo, seem a bit more aesthetically dry by comparison.
Interestingly Google told me that GPH was the company’s fastest growing product in 2006.