I didn’t think I would have to write this same kind of observation twice within a year. But today, on D-Day, I notice yet again a striking difference between Google and Microsoft. And in this case, one can almost read the evidence as a snub from Google to the United States, to the nations who united in sacrifice during World War II, and to President Obama on a day of his personal leadership in commemorating international war and peace.
I made a similar observation on Columbus Day, when Microsoft chose to honor Christopher Columbus and his explorations’ significance to American history and the world, while Google chose to honor – wait for it – Paddington Bear’s “birthday.” (See my post from then here.)
Today is of course D-Day, the 65th anniversary of a day in which over 2,000 American soldiers lost their lives, leading the way in the greatest military operation in the history of the world, as the initial landing to liberate Europe and the beginning of the end of the Nazi empire.
Google and Microsoft are two great American companies, which operate globally. Each has a public face to the world through signature online properties – their search engines. In Google’s case, that page at Google.com is their ne plus ultra public face, since they are at core a mighty search engine.
Take a look at the two pages today. Microsoft’s Bing search-engine uses its home page to commemorate D-Day, with a dramatic photograph of Normandy Beach today, and mouse-over popups providing historical highlights and links to more information on the battle’s signficance to World War II and to world history.
Google uses its home page to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the invention of the computer game Tetris.
The mouse-over popup on the cutesy Google logo reads, “Celebrating 25 years of the Tetris effect – courtesy of Tetris LLC.” (I suppose one could read that as, predictably, a coporate ad, right there on Google’s home page.)
Just as I noted on Columbus Day, this doesn’t appear to be a localization issue, or an issue of appealing to a global audience – both Microsoft and Google know my location, and in fact each is serving up a page targeted for me in the United States.
Don’t get me wrong: Tetris was an amusing and absorbing game. As a young guy I spent hours dropping the bars and shapes to fit into the rising pile below.
But at certain moments in life, you put aside childish things. Unless you’re trying to make some other kind of statement.
Note: I am a Microsoft employee. But this is not a Microsoft corporate blog, it’s my personal blog – and I’ve been known to tweak Microsoft here frequently as well. This is my personal observation space.
I have to admit I am puzzled – and personally appalled – by the decision-making over at the Googleplex, and the statement they choose to send to the world.
President Obama is leading our delegation himself at Normandy Beach today, for the international event with other world leaders remembering a moment of global importance. Self-evidently Eric Schmidt and the Google gang weren’t on board with that, and by their way of thinking saw something more significant to mark.
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Filed under: Government, Microsoft, Society | Tagged: Barack Obama, Bing, Christopher Columbus, Columbus, computer game, D-Day, DDay, Eric Schmidt, Europe, france, games, gaming, Google, Microsoft, Normandy, Normandy Beach, Obama, Paddington Bear, peace, political correctness, president, search engine, Tetris, war, World War II, WWII | 54 Comments »