Josh Catone asks: Who can compete with Facebook? The obvious answer, as he writes, would be MySpace, Google or Yahoo!

But he offers another interesting thought: the new competitors are start pages, such as pageflakes and netvibes. I like that thought! I am a heavy user of netvibes. The configuration possibilities are endless and it is very conveniently to use.

If I could combine something like that with the social component of facebook: Voila, there would be a winner! So if netvibes offers a widget through which I can manage my facebook stuff, I would only have few occasions for visiting the actual facebook site.

On the other hand, if netvibes tries to implement their own social network it will be increasingly difficult for them to lure away users from other platforms, especially the longer they wait.

Admittingly, users can move away like swarm or a flock of birds.

But: the more contacts users have within a single platform, the less likely they are to move away. That’s the inherent stickiness of social networks.

The longer netvibes waits, the more difficult it will become to attract any users from facebook or others. (Especially since facebook and myspace are not just going to wait for doomsday, they will optimise their platforms at the same time.)

Summarising: could startpages be the new competitors? They could be, but for now I doubt it. Prove me wrong, especially you, netvibes (please).