What They Thought Happened

On June 10, the online community discovered that Google’s iconic, stark white search page have been replaced by a series of colorful images and photographs from a collection which was later discovered belonging to respected artist like Dale Chihuly, Jeff Koons, Tom Otterness, Polly Apfelbaum, Kengo Kuma, Kwon Ki-Soo, Tord Boontje and Yann Arthus Bertrand.

Fearing that Google had opted for a new look and abandoned its long held minimalistic design, Google purist began to react. Tweets and forum postings were dominated by the news. Search queries for ‘remove Google background’ flew off the charts.

Suddenly at approximately 1.30pm on the same day, the background images disappeared and the plain white backdrop returned.

What They Were Told Happened

Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search products and user experience explained that Google had made what was supposed to be a one-day-only change to its usually stark, white home page with colorful images from artists, photographers and sculptors. Google had planned to run an explanation of why the home page had a new look along with the imagery. Because of a technical bug, the explanation did not show up.

“As a result, many people thought we had permanently changed our home page, so we decided to stop today’s series early,” wrote Mayer again.

On the surface of it, it seemed perfectly logical, like a publicity stunt that has gone wrong. However, behind the scenes, there are furious speculations and conjectures as to what actually happened. The fact is for the past year, there has been a steady growth in the belief that Microsoft had landed another jackpot.

What Everyone Suspect Really Happened

Microsoft bought the search engine company Kumo nearly two years ago and developed a new search algorithm after integrating it with the Powerset, another technology purchased by Microsoft. This gave birth to Bing, Microsoft’s latest search engine, slated to take over from Live Search in the very near future. Bing is rumored to be equal, if not better than Google despite it still being partly under development.

David Pogue, technology columnist in the New York Times commented after reviewing the two competing products, “Here’s the shocker, though: in many ways, Bing is better… Google is a habit.” Many felt he had summed it up perfectly.

What does this, have to do with that, you ask?
Bing has been carrying background images on its’ search page for the past year and has been attracting steady attention for the innovation it has been displaying on its’ images.

Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group. “I’m not sure if this is true or not, but it’s not a bad idea to copy the successful attributes of competitors.”

In Google’s case though, it turned out to be a very bad idea. Google has repeatedly asserted that one of its key strategic advantages has been its lighting fast page loads. Having those images on their own page removes the advantage.

A very serious ZDNet asks, “Will Bing-envy be the death of Google?