Today – perhaps more than all the hoopla at Google I/O the previous two days – best demonstrated the power that Google holds over the Internet. As we reported (and satirized) earlier today, Google turned its logo into a playable version of 30-year-to-the-day-old PacMan, and all heck broke loose.
Of course we don’t have any analytics around how may (or how long) people played the classic game today, but we’re pretty sure it was well into the millions, probably tens of millions. So what you say, that’s no surprise, Google is the most popular website in the world, right? Right indeed, and that’s exactly what we’re getting at.
Our friend Kingsley Joseph was the inspiration for this post in a tweet a few minutes ago, saying, w
“What would happen to facebook if google added casual games & a light stream to their home page permanently?”
What indeed? For so long, we’ve all just taken for granted that all you’re going to see when you type in Google.com is the Google logo with a search box underneath, plus that “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. We’re so used to it, that a guy went into a Santa Barbara computer repair shop today “complaining that his Google was infected” because of the PacMan music.
Google.com certainly has been continuing down the path of more simplicity, recently giving the homepage more white space by defaulted the page to just show the logo and search bar until the visitor mouses over the top left of the screen (which of course shows links to Gmail, Maps, Image, etc). But what if, one day out of the blue, they decided to go the opposite way?
As today demonstrated, in one fell swoop, they could basically obliterate any number (we won’t say all, that’s pushing way too much) of web services just by featuring them on Google.com. No search results needed, no marketing needed, just put it up there and kill it. Gaming? Sure. Real-time streams? Sure. Online shopping? Well, there is tough competition there, but they’d make a huge dent. You get the point – put it up on the homepage, have an actual business purpose (i.e. not just celebrating historic events) and Google could reinvent itself at any time.
Of course, after nearly 12 years, they haven’t shown any inclination to do so, and as we said above, they keep trying to make the homepage cleaner. From a business perspective as well, they have no need to re-invent themselves – advertising and search aren’t going anywhere soon. But maybe someday in the far future, when the Internet has changed, we might all be going to Google.com everyday to play PacMan 2020, 4oth Anniversary Edition.