There seems to be some confusion out there in pixel-land. A Portal means a Door. A door is not a place to hang around, it is a gateway to somewhere else. Portals do not count their visitors in terms of stickiness, but in click-throughs. You click to go through the door to somewhere else.
Which is what Google is trying to explain. They don’t create content or hold you to their site, they simply open the door. I think of Google as one of those nice concierge types you get in overseas hotels who always know the best restaurants within walking distance and where to buy an umbrella (ok sometimes they loan you one, but that still fits into the Google analogy). Of course their conceirge gets a clip for each recommendation to the local eatery but hey, thats business.
A room or a space or a mansion or a garden or a whatever is what you click through to. Some of the doors or Portals lead to online communities. MySpace, LiveMansion and so on. Others lead to webpages full of content we sift through in a static way. The difference between stepping through a door and reading a sign on a wall or stepping through the door and meeting interesting people. Interesting people dressed differently, sipping different drinks and wearing different expressions.
So, do you have a portal or a room? Is your room simply a wall with a noticeboard or does it have a community? The evolution of the Internet in my opinion is
from a one page advertisement – listing your company name, address and an “email for info”
to an information site – download .pdfs
to a search or aggregator portal OR an ecommerce site
and finally(?) to dialogue (community) incorporating all of the above but getting your consumers involved.