With enough birthdays of the famous dead to last an entire year, has Google begun to look to Bing for ideas on how to improve search? For those that need this unwrapping a little, what we’re talking about is the Google Doodle.
The first Google Doodle was in honour of the Burning Man festival in 1998 and, since then, there’s been a fairly steady stream of them with around one a month, most usually to mark important dates in the calendar from religious festivals to public holidays from all nations and creeds of the world. That is, until around 2010 when there was something of an explosion of the Google Doodle - around the same time that Microsoft introduced its search engine, Bing.
What Bing does very nicely - even before you ask it to find something for you - is to look great. Go and take a look at what’s on the Bing homepage right now and see if you prefer an entire screen of a high-res, interactive landscape or the white page with a search box and a sometimes interesting logo that Google offers. There’s quite clearly more on offer from Microsoft. It’s what a search homepage should be. If you open up your laptop for a fresh look at a new day, Bing inspires.
A wide shot of the polar ices or ideas on how to brighten your Blue Monday might not change your life but there’s very clearly a good amount of not too intrusive content on the page to greet you. The only way you ever get anything from Google is if there happens to be a Doodle which, increasingly - seemingly in recognition of the fact that the competition has got something right - there is.
The trouble with what we’re getting from the Google Doodle is that it’s a bit of a half measure; something of an admission that there’s work to be done but not much of an address. Sure, there are plenty of good ones - with the likes of the PAC-MAN, Les Paul, Moog and the Little Nemo animation all springing to mind - but, for every moment of excellence, there are 10 or 20 flat renders of versions of the letters G-O-O-G-L-E to represent the birthday of someone who’s been gone far too long to be blowing up the party balloons.
While we’re on the subject, is it even sensible to celebrate the birthday of a dead person? They are, after all, no longer alive. It almost seems more obvious to commemorate their death day - or perhaps, better still, to praise the day when they actually achieved the greatest and most notable act of their lives; the one for which we know them.
Whatever the case, the Google Doodle may have been a novel thing back in the late Nineties and Noughties but what we’ve come to expect from the web has moved on. We want aesthetically well thought out, highly functional and hugely interactive content-filled options at every turn. We don’t want our time wasted with what has remained, in effect, a holding page.
We used to cover every one of the Google Doodle stories on Pocket-lint. Some time ago, we recognised that they’re not interesting enough any more. Perhaps it’s time Google did too.