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A funny thing happened this week. Google tried to become Bing by displaying full color pictures on its Home page, and was undone by a bug. The irony here is just too obvious to ignore. Bing influences Google to change its plain white page, and it comes apart because of a bug. You have to admit, it made Google look pretty foolish. Meanwhile, they must have been having a hearty laugh in the halls at Microsoft over this.

Bing's Strengths

One of things people have really liked about Bing is the changing high resolution picture it displays on the Bing Home page. They are quite nice, even if they are just eye candy with no real purpose. One of the signature design elements that has always defined Google is that they have presented a box on a plain white page. It's who they are, but it's clear Bing's modest success has them thinking, maybe overthinking and they believed they had to match Bing for whatever reason. So we have the picture experiment.

Google's Motivation

Marissa Mayer wrote in the Official Google Blog on June 2 that they were adding photos from well known artists as a way to enhance the user experience (and to blatantly copy Microsoft). The idea, however, had a bit of a twist. You could use one of your own photos, or you could choose one from the Google Picassa gallery of photos. Last week, however, she wrote that they decided to go with a rotating photo array for 24 hours as a way to promote the new feature. Rotating high quality photos--mmm, where have I seen that before.

Google ended up pulling out of the one day of experiment, apparently because an explanation that was supposed to appear didn't due to a bug. Mayer wrote on Twitter:

"@COMPUTERWOCHE There was supposed to be a link explaining what was going on (only one day, etc.), due to a bug it wasn't showing"

What's the Point Anyway?

I'm not even clear why Google would do this. First of all, how many people actually go to the Google Home page to conduct a search? I know I rarely do. For the most part, I enter my search in the address bar in Chrome or I enter it in the Google search box in Firefox, completely bypassing the Home Page, which is really an extra an unnecessary step. Secondly, why would Google want to copy Microsoft in this fashion and open themselves up to ridicule. Finally, why would they put out this feature, one that's clearly extraneous, before it was ready?

None of it makes much sense, but last week, Google failed at its attempt to become a Bing wannabe, ended up looking very silly, and it's just baffling on so many levels.

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Last Post by jovy_WOG
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The bug, I suspect, was someone failing to paste the link in...

The failure, I'm certain, was in Google thinking that people actually want a confusing full screen image that you cannot remove (only replace with another confusing image) instead of the clean and crisp screen that helped make Google what it is today.

All in all, a massive FAIL

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Great minds think alike. I'd just written an opinion piece elsewhere entitled 'Google, the Bing Edition: an exercise in hard of thinkingness' in which I said "Google should be man enough to admit it gets it wrong every now and then, rather than blame the most unlikely sounding of bugs for a hard of thinking moment".

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Heh, that happens. We who observer this space so carefully, can only come to the same conclusions from time time.

Ron

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I guess imitation is the greatest form of flattery, except that in the case of Google, it did not do such a great imitation!

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The really interesting thing is that Google is worried enough by Bing to want to copy it in the first place.

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When one thing works for a search engine the others try to imitate.

Edited by aladuo: n/a

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i thought straight away that google may be slightly worried that bing may be about to take over the search engine market?
then it made me wonder...google has the patent over there basic "blank page with just a search box included" which if i remember right paid 60 mil for the patent and had it majorly rushed before anyone could disagree to it, as lets face it.....a copyright on the display is pathetic, quite regulary used, and should not be allowed to b reserved!
why would they dump the image that they paid so much to patent?

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Aludo:
Quite right. Even when that search engine is in complete control of the market.

Thanks for the comment.
Ron

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IWDesigns:
I don't see how that's possible. Bing has maybe 10 percent market share. Google has 67 percent. Running scared from Bing is just baffling.

Thanks for the comment,
Ron

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Google copying Bing? That is laughable. There is a reason why Google is pushing 70% usage while MS holds a meager 10% of search usage. Bing (msn) STILL returns the worst search results in terms of relevance. The only reason that they have 10% is because of the millions spent in advertising. You can polish a terd all you want, but it's still a terd :)

btw: iGoogle has been using background images long before Bling.

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it is because they were trying to compete with each other, might be scare if they will be replace by bing SE? it's a competitors thing. well i just guess?..

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Yeah, you can say that it looked foolish. Bing is no competition for google, I wonder why did they even bother.

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I don't think Google have to worry about it, let take an example of facebook and myspace, even though myspace supports Animated gif image,better theme options still facebook rules in social networking.

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I am sure that Google has had to think that people actually want to confuse the whole screen, which can not be removed (just replace with a more confusing picture) screen instead of a clean and fresh, which has contributed to what Google is today.

Edited by katiamastan: n/a

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The best thing about google is that it loads fast. They should leave a good thing alone.

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Actually, I think it might be. For all you know, this was posted Jun 12th, 2010.

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