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April 21, 2008

Google's New Social Network: iGoogle


The Google-owned social network orkut, while extremely popular in Brazil and India, has failed to find similar success in the US. With the launch of OpenSocial, an API for writing social gadgets, it was clear that iGoogle will play an important role in Google's second attempt to socialize. After all, OpenSocial applications are iGoogle gadgets with a social component.

Following orkut's model, iGoogle opened a sandbox for developers who write OpenSocial gadgets. The sandbox is probably a test for the next iteration of iGoogle: the personalized homepage turned into a social network. "The integration of OpenSocial with gadgets gives you an opportunity to enhance your content for users by incorporating social features. For example, a books gadget could display what a user's friends are reading, allow users to request to borrow books from friends' libraries, and show users books that their friends recently rated. As users share content with their friends, your gadget will naturally build a broad audience for distributing content and driving traffic," explains the new developer site for iGoogle gadgets.

iGoogle has tens of million of users, 50% of the users are from the US and it was one of the fastest growing Google products in 2006 and 2007. It's also the homepage for many Google users who want to personalize their experience by adding a theme and fresh information from the web. The new social component will not affect all the gadgets, so you'll still have gadgets for mail, weather or news, but some of the gadgets could share information with your friends. There's also a new canvas view that will show an expanded version of the gadgets, an integration with Google profiles and a newsfeed that shows your friends' recent activities.

Hopefully, the social component of iGoogle won't be too prominently promoted and people will be able to continue using the personalized homepage without dealing with friend invitations and viral gadgets. iGoogle will try to be the social connection between Google services, but this is a difficult mission for Google, a company that has never managed to build a successful social site.

Related:
iGoogle Gadget Maker
Google intends to integrate its social applications
Google to open up its social platform

17 comments:

  1. we already have plenty of social network, another one is unnecessery

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  2. I like the layout in the sshot. Where can I find it?

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  3. i'm thinking opensocial will allow you to customize your igoogle page to contain
    - facebook
    - myspace
    - bebo

    so you can get your social kicks without having to log into specifically the different social networks.

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  4. You can see the new layout if you sign up for the sandbox at:
    http://www.google.com/ig/sandbox

    The sandbox is intended for developers and it starts with a blank iGoogle page. To go back to your standard iGoogle page, click on "Leave the sandbox".

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  5. I will look forward to more integration (across the social networks) and clutter free layout(multi tab) from this initiative. Google will have to provide personal space to each user though. Users would prefer to share info at a profile(page) level rather than specific information at gadget level. or may be both, just like facebook. That is why I wonder, where is that Google profile page that was coming.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Great information, thanks. It's always good to hear about new developments. Everything needs time.

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  8. netvibes, people, netvibes... they rock!

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  9. "Google, a company that has never managed to build a successful social site."

    Except, of course, Gmail.

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  10. Netvibes is still ahead. The only thing igoogle has going for it is that it loads faster.

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  11. I knew this was gonna be the next offering. I should speculate more it seems!!

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  12. I agree with siddig: we have plenty of social network but who knows where you will find you long lost friend, classmates, ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend?

    Especially if one of them can send you a notification email when your missing friend joins!

    Yoopyou can do it and you do not have to sign up to save your friend's name....

    Sandor
    www.yoopyou.com/members/starnoczi
    www.yoopyou.com

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  13. First things first. The first sentence of this post should read (or some similar variant): "The Google-owned social network Orkut, while extremely popular in both India and Brasil, has failed to find similar success in the U.S".

    The OpenSocial API exists not solely for writing social-enabled iGoogle Gadgets, but rather to enable web developers, including, but not limited to developers of iGoogle gadgets, to harness social data from multiple places and aggregate said data in meaningful ways that typically add value to the end user's experience. From Google Code's OpenSocial API webpage located at code.google.com/apis/opensocial/, "OpenSocial defines a common API for social applications across multiple websites. With standard JavaScript and HTML, developers can create apps that access a social network's friends and update feeds". This information serves to clear up the inherent, but likely unintended, falsehood in the statement, "After all, OpenSocial applications are iGoogle gadgets with a social component".

    That said, Google's development and subsequent release of the OpenSocial API paves the way for many exciting social-flavored mashups on many sites and/or webapps, including iGoogle.

    I should disclose that I am in no way affiliated with Google Inc., any of it's subsidiaries, partners or affiliates. I merely noticed a bit of slighly skewed information and decided to offer what I hope will be constructive criticism.

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  14. @ej.dystic:
    Thanks for your comment. I adjusted the first phrase, following your tip.

    OpenSocial API has been inspired by the API used for Google gadgets and it's natural to see it back to the original source.

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  15. Orkut the best one in market these days.. Cheers guys!!! Keep up the good work..

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  16. Yeah.. I mean I know google has to have everything, but really, Did you catch the train?

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