Tom Drapeau, the current head of Netscape at AOL, is finally admitting that Jason Calacanis's jealous attempt to clone Kevin Rose's Digg was a failure. Sort of. Calacanis, who left AOL earlier this year to launch Mahalo, an also-ran Web directory, had hoped to persuade Netscape's loyal but dwindling base of users to embrace Digg's social-news model, where users submit headlines and vote on them to determine their ranking on the site. Drapeau confirms what TechCrunch predicted weeks ago — after initially denying it: Users do not want the Netscape brand associated with Calacanis's social-news experiment. But Drapeau continues to stubbornly insist that Netscapers "remain committed to delivering a compelling social news experience for our users." They just don't know when the site will be available, what it will be called, or what they'll do with it.
Netscape will revert back to what Drapeau refers to as a "traditional news" site — in other words, a portal site. But not the 2000-era portal design users mourn for. Instead, it's another AOL clone of Yahoo's My Yahoo personalized homepage, with a few Netscape logos tacked on.