iGoogle is here…

PC WORLD Tuesday, May 01, 2007 8:59 AM PT Posted by Harry McCracken

Yesterday, Google announced that its Personalized Homepage was going to become iGoogle–and today, it is. The Gadget Maker that lets you create content gadgets for iGoogle and share them with a few clicks is also live.

I assume that another new feature, the use of your default location on Google Maps (if you’ve set it) to provide more relevant search results in the main Google Web search engine is up, but you couldn’t prove it by the searches I’ve tried this morning. Google’s Sep Kamvar told me that the effect on results would be subtle, at least at first, and it seems to be.

I did a search for “Saratoga,” thinking that the results might skew to the one here in the Bay Area, but I mostly got ones relating to the one in New York. And when I retried my search for “Mazda dealer,” I saw no evidence that Mazda shops near me were being promoted to the top of the list.

Back to the name “iGoogle” for a moment. When Google told us at yesterday’s personalization event about the new moniker, I immediately started thinking iPod. And I can’t imagine I’d be alone–the lower-case “i” prefix has become pretty much synonymous with products from Apple, or with some relation to the iPod. A group which doesn’t include iGoogle.

(I assume, by the way, that Apple won’t carp about the name, given that Google CEO Eric Schmidt is on the Apple board.)

In the pre-iPod days, a lower-case “i” prefix kinda stood for “Internet.” (And was a synonym for a lower-case “e” prefix, meaning “electronic.) iGoogle is no more Internet-related than oGoogle (a name I just made up to refer to Ordinary Google).

No, the “i” in iGoogle must refer to “I,” as in you. Or me. You get the idea–it’s about the personalization aspect.

I’m curious to see whether folks warm up to it–Google says there are tens of millions of people with personalized Google homepages, so a lot of us are going to see the “iGoogle” logo instead of “Google” from now on. Some of my PCW colleagues have said they think it’s kinda goofy. I’m OK with it, but Google has been changing names of things often enough recently–Frugal became Google Product Search last week, and Google Maps became Google Local before changing its name back to Google Maps–that it’s beginning to remind me of Microsoft, which has a long history of changing product names for reasons that are rarely clear to anyone outside of Redmond.

And one last thought: Wonder if Google will bother to create variant iGoogle logos to celebrate holidays, like it does with the oGoogle logo?

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