iGoogle, the popular Google service, is a customizable AJAX-based homepage where users (after signing in) can create custom homepages by adding widgets, unique backgrounds and web feeds. With iGoogle, users can select unique themes for their Google homepages. Some of the themes are even animated depending on weather conditions, the time in your area, and so on.
Now, as the rumors stated, Google was going to buy Digg.com for around 200 million last July, but apparently they couldn’t work out a deal. And now they have come up with a new iGoogle gadget which is becoming increasingly popular, and has a functionality which is very similar to Digg, called ‘What’s Popular’. The Google gadget allows users to find what’s popular on the web by 1) submitting links, 2) voting on links, and 3) letting an algorithm do the rest. That’s almost the same process as the Social Media voting service Digg, which allows users to read, vote and add articles of their choice.
The functional areas of the Google gadget and the Digg services definitely overlap, even though it’s not a website or service of its own. Yet the question on that springs to mind is: Is Google trying to compete with Digg or StumbleUpon with this?
Digg vs. What’s Popular
The gadget is much simpler than Digg, but works on the same algorithm. The most important function is of course, the ability to submit articles. It’s simple, just copy and paste the link – the gadget completes the rest, although titles and descriptions can be changed (which helps Google optimize its suggestions).
After the items are submitted, anyone with the gadget can vote items up or down . The gadget identifies how many up votes the item has received (called pops). Articles with enough up votes rise to the top for everyone to see. The gadget even divides content between stories, videos, and images – another Digg feature.
What’s Google trying to do?
This gadget makes it very simple and easy to add links and vote on links. Although this gadget cannot be expected to drive full time traffic to a website like Digg, StumbleUpon, or even Yahoo Buzz can; it’s not hard to see the ‘What’s Popular’ gadget becoming an extension of a larger service with the same functionality.
What does the future say?
Google has been showing increasing interest in the social media and networking space recently, and some of the stories have already been covered at WATblog:
1. Google Brings Latitude Feature To Orkut – Location Based Social Networking Is Next?
2. Google Profiles Now In Google Search Results – Google Yourself To See!
And Microsoft has already integrated FaceBook, Digg, Myspace and many more Social Network sites with Windows Live which allows users to share friend, profile and content updates. This has allowed Microsoft to get into the networking scene and attract more users. It looks as if the search giants have stood up and taken notice of the growing power of social communities and social media. Google, specially, looks set to diversify into the social media scene, its muscle power surely being more than enough to push its new innovative services to the feature hungry user base of Web 2.0.