If you visit Google today, you may notice the home page is a bit different. About a week ago, Google began letting users to upload their own background images on Google.com, to help them customize the Google home page.
To drive more awareness to this feature and to inspire users to change their home page, Google teamed up with “several well-known artists, sculptors and photographers to create a gallery of background images you can use to personalize your Google homepage.” Over the next 24 hours, when you visit Google.com, the home page will feature one of those custom backgrounds.
The artists and pictures come from Dale Chihuly, Jeff Koons, Tom Otterness, Polly Apfelbaum, Kengo Kuma (隈研吾), Kwon, Ki-soo (권기수) and Tord Boontje, as well as some incredible photos from Yann Arthus-Bertrand and National Geographic.
Also, this feature of changing the home page is now available internationally.
Postscript From Danny Sullivan: This is a remarkable move by Google. When they launched the background image feature last week, it already appeared as if they were copying Bing, though they denied that:
“The real motivation for this had to do with iGoogle,” said Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search products and user experience. “Some users really prefer the classic look but want a small amount of personalization, so this is a happy medium in between.” She added, “We think it has the same type of appeal that wallpaper does on your desktop or your phone.”
Of course, Bing automatically shows a picture on its home page while Google, even with its new feature, did not. But now, Google’s doing a direct copy, even if only for a day. The company that claims it never wants to copy someone else is, well, copying Bing.
Personally, I suspect this will be a way for Google to gather data on whether its users like the background images. If so, then I can see down the line that they continue to be shown for everyone, with Google claiming it’s due to user demand.
Regardless, Bing’s 1-year anniversary is today, and Google’s move is probably making a lot of people smile over there.
There’s also lots of reaction on Techmeme.
NOTE: See Official: Google Removes Auto-Background Feature.