What's Going on With Netscape?
TechCrunch is reporting that AOL is considering killing off the current incarnation of Netscape, “the ‘Digg Clone’ social news site that they launched a little over a year ago at Netscape.com, and redirecting traffic to the Netscape portal instead.”
If true this is one of the most surprising moves I’ve seen this year. Reports about the success of Netscape’s shift to people-powered social news has been varied, but the bottom line is that while Digg dominates the space that it helped to invent, there is very little major competition in what should be a wide open marketplace.
I continue to believe that social news is the future of news. My prediction is that many major online news platforms in the future will evolve to what I call hybrid social news: a combination of submitted and voted upon stories, original news content, and news stories selected by editorial staff from around the web.
The right combination of professional and community-driven content will be a winner when executed properly. Netscape in my view is a great experiment in that direction, combining its news “anchors” with user submitted stories and voting. Of course, it’s far from perfect, but the very fact that it stands with only Reddit as significant competition to the tech-driven Digg should give AOL execs pause before they pull the plug.
Former Netscape GM Jason Calacanis, who has been Netscape’s biggest cheerleader even after his departure, writes “No idea what is going on over at Netscape…”
Search Engine Land alerted me to the fact that Tom Drapeau, current head of the “Netscape.com social news site,” angrily commented on the TechCrunch story that the rumors are false, and that the story is nothing more than hysteria caused by a newly added option on Netscape to access the “old” portal / non-social news experience.
That would really be too bad.