iGoogle has been my homepage since 2005! It’s been a terrific 8 years together. I don’t even remember what my homepage was before iGoogle… probably the minimal Google search page (how boring). I’ve grown used to the never-ending distraction of news, email, calendar, and other reminders (like what deals I have to use before they expire), and frankly I have not found a replacement yet. This morning the reminder that Google was “killing” my old friend iGoogle in 13 days popped up and I felt a little sad, a little panicked, and a bit ticked off!
I’ve read Google’s help topic, What’s happening to iGoogle?, more than once and I still don’t get it. Maybe that’s because I’m thinking of this more from what I want as a user of Google’s products than from their grand strategic point of view as a company that makes lots of money. Of course software companies that lose sight of “what the customer wants” have paid a price in the past. Think of RIM and the Blackberry, Microsoft and… well you can “take your pick” of several failures. Do I expect Google to lose customers or money based on this decision? Not really, they have the best search engine in the world and as far as I have seen no one else is close. That is their “bread and butter” product like Windows is for Microsoft. You can afford to be wrong about a lot of things when you have money pouring in from a cash cow like that. Google’s suggestion is to use Chrome, you’ll love it! This is a good strategic move for them. This could lead to a bigger share of the browser market for them, resulting in increased interest in creating 3rd party apps for Chrome, which also run on their Chrome operating system, and more recently on your Windows desktop.
So what does Google really want? Of course they want to take Microsoft’s cash cow from them. Microsoft has been trying to take the search cash cow from Google for years, so this is only fair right? But as a very satisfied iGoogle user I really don’t care! I just want my iGoogle. So Microsoft, please create iBing, if you could also create an iBing Chrome app, and an iBing Android app I would appreciate it. If you put Bing search on it I might even use it – occasionally! But if you put Google search on it… I’ll be telling all my friends – “iGoogle is dead. Long live iBing”!
Honestly, the one iGoogle alternative I haven’t looked at yet are other portals like Yahoo!, AOL, and MSN. Yahoo offers a configurable home page – myYahoo and so does Microsoft at myMSN but they revolve around Yahoos and MSN’s offerings and I’ve grown attached to my Google things. However, these sites are options and if you want something like iGoogle from a company you trust, they are better options than Google is offer at this point. I have looked at some of the alternatives put forth by other companies including a Chrome app called iChrome – it is not even close.
There are some sites like ProtoPage and igHome that really try to be just like iGoogle. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ll say that one issue I would have with them is trusting them with all my choices and my personal info. That may seem funny when I trust Google with the same info, but it is an issue for me. I guess it is because, besides the news the only things I had on iGoogle were Google widgets and Google already had that info. I’ve been using NetVibes for a couple of months, just to have a place to “see multiple news feeds” and it works but it is not the same as iGoogle. NetVibes does have Google search though.
I will likely search for options with Chrome and try to get used to Google’s icons to a single page interface for a bit. If that works Google gets what it wants! If it doesn’t work, I will try to get used to myMSN or myYahoo and I’ll just set the browsers search engine to Google. In that case Google still doesn’t lose… the cash cow keeps mooing and that at least has to be reassuring to them.
Update 22 Oct 2013: I’m trying out My Yahoo. It actually has instructions to help you export your iGoogle settings and import them into My Yahoo. I was able to do it, but the calendar events are showing up on the wrong day. I’m sure this is due to a time zone preference setting, but I’ve corrected it everywhere I can find it and the issue is persisting. My Yahoo can be set up to show gmail and Google Calendar events though. So far it is very similar!