Google and You = iGoogle
Google has transformed its rather plain-sounding Google Personalized Homepage into the new, (hopefully) sexier iGoogle. Apparently it's something of an old idea; according to Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of search products and user experience, iGoogle was floated as a name for the Personalized Homepage back in 2005 when the service was being assembled. Google then decided to offer Personalized Homepage as a feature rather than a distinct product, however, and intentionally went with the mundane title. Now, two years later, Google has slapped an "i" on the front, intending it to represent a personalized Google experience—I Google, you Google, etc. Either that, or the Google CEO's tenure on Apple's Board of Directors is showing.
One of the major new features of iGoogle is the ability to build gadgets without any prior programming experience. In Google parlance, a gadget is a feature you can design and send to a friend or a family member. Examples of current gadgets include photos, GoogleGrams, YouTube channels, a quote-of-the-day, and a handy personalized anniversary (or other holiday) reminder.
Gadgets can also be set to update automatically, so that your friends and family receive a new one every day. Given just how much most people love getting their "Joke of the Day" from Santa Banta JOkes.
With iGoogle, Google is trying to push the concept of Google as more than just a search engine, while allowing users to selectively incorporate the additional data they see rather than simply throwing it at them a la Yahoo. Encouraging users to create personal spaces at iGoogle not only increases the amount of time users spend on Google's site, it also opens additional advertising and promotional opportunities, all of which the company would welcome as it continues to look beyond its search engine for additional revenue sources.