Google users have sent the phrase "remove Google background" to the top of the site's Hot Searches list today, alarmed by the sudden appearance of full-screen imagery — including work by artists Jeff Koons and Dale Chihuly — on the site's more typically stark-white search page. Some commentators, noting that Google's rival Bing has already staked out this look, were equally aggrieved:
This is an implausible move for the once-classic Google: "What's mystifying, at first, is what Google thinks it's getting out of this," says The Guardian's Technology Blog. The site's founders "used to be adamant that nothing should spoil the clean lines of the Google page." Alas, it seems they've compromised their principles for trendiness: "It looks as though Google is trying to reach the huge mass of people who like some sort of personalisation."
"Google's front page gets an image"
And then there's the load-time issue: Brand dilution is certainly a problem, says David Gewirtz at ZDNet. "If Google now looks more like Bing, will users cease to differentiate the two as clearly?" But beyond the aesthetic issues, this "butt-ugly" image slows things down. "Google has repeatedly said that one of its key strategic advantages has been its lightning-fast page loads."
"Will Bing envy be the death of Google?"
Calm down — this is only temporary: Not only can the offending visuals be removed by clicking the "change background image" in the lower left corner, says Jennifer Valentino-DeVries at The Wall Street Journal, this "collaboration" with artists is nothing but a 24-hour "default" experiment. "The Google home page should be back to normal tomorrow where you can keep it in its simple and classic look, choose to upload an image or photo, or switch back and forth," a Google spokeswoman told the WSJ.
"Google adds art to background prompting searches to remove it"