iGoogle Goes Wide, Introduces Canvas Pages.

Google’s startpage, iGoogle, is spreading its wings. Today it is rolling out a new design that shifts tabs to a column on the left so that more Google gadgets and sources of content can be accommodated. But the biggest change is the ability for content partners and developers to expand each gadget to take up nearly the whole page.

Partners that are launching with expanded gadgets include the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, TV Guide, iLike, CurrentTV, and Go Comics. Google itself has created extra-wide gadgets for Google Reader, Gmail, Google Finance, and YouTube. If you have an iGoogle page in the U.S., you should see the new design rolled out by the end of the day.

In effect, Google is stealing a page from Facebook here and giving Gadget developers their own canvas pages. Within these iFrames, an entire Website can be exposed, with ads and all. Any money from ads on the canvas page go 100 percent to the content partner.

iGoogle thus becomes more than just a startpage that takes you elsewhere. Now this makes it easier for people to stick around and explore their personalized content without leaving iGoogle. (Although, most of the newspaper gadgets are set up so that clicking on a headline takes you to their sites, but that is their choice).