Google has made a new suite of designs by 70 of the world’s most famous artists available to users of its individualised iGoogle portal.
The Google artist themes can be used to add a kind of designer skin to iGoogle, a kind of Google home page that users can personalise with items like game widgets or news feeds.
Google even held an exhibition in New York to show off the designs, with artworks projected on to buildings, footpaths or streets in the city’s meatpacking district.
And the reason for the arty turn? According to Time.com columnist Josh Quittner, the move is all about pumping up the iGoogle portal as a competitor to the likes of Facebook.
Quittner argues that Google sees the popular social network as a threat because it is effectively a closed world – people can spend time, communicate, play games and exchange pictures all without venturing beyond the Facebook realm.
For Google, which thrives on people madly switching from one web property to the next – via quick Google search, of course – this is bad news. Hence Google’s move to attempt to increase the popularity of its own personalised, user-oriented profile page. And if Quittner is right, we’re likely to see plenty more of the same as time rolls on.