Google Blogoscoped

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Special iGoogle for Hong Kong, Taiwan

Google Hong Kong and Taiwan now include a special iGoogle link – below the search box, not in the top right like on – pointing to a special iGoogle homepage. Once you click the link, iGoogle (formerly called “Google Personalized Homepage”) will also be your default Google homepage.

What does this iGoogle show (when you’re not signed in to see your previously selected gadgets)? Quite a lot, actually. All dialogs are tabbed – using the “compound gadget”, as Google expert Ionut Alex. Chitu notes in his blog – and right on this portal page you’ll find things like:

“We think [the new design] will be more appropriate for the local cultures, and their context, and their broadband connections,” PC World quotes Google co-founder Sergey Brin. We can’t know for sure but have some reason to believe that this new effort to adapt the Google homepage concept to these Chinese markets, with its (apparently) own needs, is a result of Google’s China office thinking. Headquartered in Beijing and Shanghai and headed by Lee Kai-Fu, Google China in the past already created some special tools, services and approaches for their own market representing that “fifth of the world’s population” Google once talked about.

Google for China Mainland in the meantime doesn’t have that special link to the personalized Google homepage. One reason may be that iGoogle requires the Google Account if you want to keep your gadget selections across different computers, and so far, doesn’t even make you login anywhere on its site – and for Google to authenticate and thus identify a user in this largely “compromised” environment would indeed be crossing yet another line, for better... or worse. However, expansion without user authentication is bound to reach its natural limit, and I’m not sure Google management is willing to accept this in the long run.


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