The New York Times continues to add to its impressive online site, rolling out a “MyTimes” feature today that has been behind a beta wall since last year. The feature looks slick: customisable widget boxes featuring content recommendations from Times’ reporters and columnists, feeds from other news organisations, movie show times, weather, etc.
MyTimes, in other words, appears to provide much of the functionality that portals like Yahoo began offering circa 1996. If the Times had rolled the feature out in 1995, therefore, who knows where its online presence would be today–probably a good deal larger than the 14 million uniques it currently has. Unfortunately, MyTimes does not seem to offer much that a committed NYTimes.com browser could already find on the site, and its feature set as a start-page almost certainly falls short of those offered by Yahoo, Google, NetVibes, and the dozens of other “My” portals out there, at which most Internet users have already established a presence.
So will the Times get a small bump in user-engagement (a.k.a., time on the site) from MyTimes? Probably. Will this be enough for the company to significantly increase online revenue and, thereby, save itself from the demise of its print business? No.