>>> what is it that rocks if we compare it to google/ig for example? Or if we compare it to a web-based rss reader for that instance, since it plays a strong substitution role?
1) It's extremely minimalistic view (yes, by default it brings all these additional views but I usually click the "hide" link, and I get a very clean search portal. That's what I like most about it. Yes, I know that google.com has this for a long time, but now start.com is even thinner 🙂
2) google.com/ig (or other similar portals like my.msn.com or my.yahoo.com) require a login. For simplicity, I want to skip that part. I just want a quick search portal that is easy to use from any machine (and I am using a lot of machines at work or at home). For me it's important to bring the portal quick: type "start" and press Ctrl-Enter.
3) The new stickiness model, where you can "save" the search results and start a new query on the same page. (Bug: this doesn't seem to always work - in some cases I get "no results"?)
>>> I liked it very much in the very beginning when they were still in beta, I still love their concept, but still it is far away from what (I think) it should be. Hint: try to import an opml file. Even Neogen's (http://new.neogen.ro/)works better (no, I am not affiliated with it whatsoever).
I don't use the RSS reader part. But indeed, the OPML import doesn't seem to work. (I hope the start.com team is listening.) And while we are here - a wish list item for the start.com guys: can you please add a "cached link" to the search results? And a longer text snippet in the search results (not just one line, but two lines, like search.msn.com). And - the ability to search images. And integration with virtual earth. And... no, I don't want a little pony 🙂
I personally agree that it has lots of future potential but it's a beta of the very first version after all. We'll see how it works...