It looks like iGoogle will be joining Google Buzz, Google Lively and many other projects in the Google graveyard. Google has come far since its initial beginnings as a research project by two students at Stanford. It’s now the first stop for people from all walks of life who are looking for information on anything from Mustang wheels from CJ Pony Mustang to the best way to grow tomatoes.
iGoogle allows users to add numerous different features to their homepage, from local weather to international news to a preview of their Gmail inbox, all while keeping the Google search bar available on their main page. For the busy or the easily distracted it is a boon, keeping those essential tasks easily accessible in one handy place. Since 2005, millions of people have used iGoogle as their starting page on the web – indeed, in 2008 iGoogle was responsible for a full 20% of visits to the Google homepage.
The Beginning of the End?
Googe’s focus on Google+ as a rival to Facebook started affecting iGoogle in 2011. In October of that year, Google announced that they wanted to shift social interaction over to Google+, and would be disabling the social features of iGoogle. Three months later, in January 2012, this process was complete. However, Google’s October announcement soothed users’ fears that iGoogle would be going the way of Buzz by confirming that iGoogle itself was staying.
A Limited Reprieve
Those who had had worries that iGoogle was for the chopping block proved correct. In July 2012, the announcement was made that iGoogle was facing forced retirement. Mobile users would be saying goodbye to the service in just a few weeks, at the end of July, while the main version would be staying put until November 2013.
With the social features already jettisoned in favor of Google+, iGoogle users have a number of other options in trying to recreate the iGoogle experience. In the announcement of the shutdown, Google recommended various applications on Google Play, while Chrome users were directed to the Chrome Web Store to find various apps for weather updates and so on.
Reactions to the move have not been popular, with many users up in arms on their various social networks and on the Google Help forum itself. While it may make internal sense for Google to try and funnel users towards other ventures such as Google+ and the Chrome Web Store, their failures with such products as Google Buzz and Google Wave are surely evidence that Google doesn’t always know best. With 16 months until the final days of iGoogle, we may see a rollback.