Viigo 3.0 beta chases Yahoo Go 3.0 beta

Viigo 3.0 beta adds weather, sports scores, and a stock ticker to its excellent free RSS-reader for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry phones. Is Yahoo Go in trouble?

Viigo home screen
Viigo's flagship RSS reader is now only one data destination of many. (Credit: Viigo)

Another Yahoo department has cause for concern. Up until last week, Yahoo Go was top dog in the mobile widget arena, pulling everything from weather, news, and finance to local listings, Flickr photos, and search onto Yahoo Go 3.0 beta, the company's rich application for smartphones. But Viigo 3.0 beta has added many of the same elements to what is essentially a faster-loading and more visually straightforward wrapper.

I've sung Viigo's praises when it was flexing new-found muscle as a superb RSS reader for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices. The new beta, released June 19, still retains its RSS-fetching core, but news is now one tab of nine. Like Yahoo Go, Viigo 3.0 beta will report on sports scores, weather, entertainment, stocks, travel, and local listings.

The resemblance to Yahoo Go's more famous 3.0 beta has not been lost on Viigo CEO Mark Ruddock, who stated in an interview with CNET that the similarities between the two content programs are more coincidental duplication than deliberate emulation.

"[Viigo's] services reflect the services we believe will initially be the most interesting," Ruddock said. While it's true that Viigo will necessarily have to mirror much of Yahoo's content in order to make it as the "everything" source for mobile data, Viigo's engineers will have to work hard to introduce features that surpass its greatest rivals. "It's the way we will compete with anyone in this space," he added.

Viigo's weather-reading channel
Viigo's weather-reading channel, in cahoots with Accuweather. (Credit: Viigo)

More to come
Here's Viigo's vision. First, there's filling in the features laid out in this first beta build, many of which are mere placeholders marked by screenshots of sneak previews. Next come back-end changes that will mash up content for richly integrated data on a results screen. And as always, there's gaining new partnerships with content providers, among them a major music label with whom Viigo would like to offer band and concert information and audio tracks and podcasts. Opening up an XML-based development platform in Q1 is expected to also populate Viigo with content and new functionality.

Until then, Viigo 3.0 beta is in good shape for forging ahead and quite possibly for besting Yahoo Go. The product isn't yet where it ought to be, admits CEO Ruddock. The old RSS mainstay cries out for a visual overhaul to match the new look; the full feature set has yet to be completed; and the home screen demands customization--just ask users wondering why Canadian football deserves to be the third-most valued channel on their reader. That slot obviously belongs to the SPL.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.