Google's little g. Does it allow for a conversation about the big S?
If you put together the logo redesign, Eric Schmidt admitting that "Do No Evil" is merely a rule that "allows for conversation" and Sergei Brin's projected trip to space, what do you have? A change of strategy.
Sometimes, apparently unrelated events are really part of a strategy.
You trim your eyebrows. You visit a shrink. You suggest a late meeting with an attractive co-worker. Only afterwards do those around you see the connection between the three.
I am getting the same feeling about Google.
Google always wanted everyone to believe that it would never change. That it was a fine and spiritual body, eager to do good, while taking charitable donations on the side. (the side of the page, to be precise)
A sort of Mother Teresa with sideburns and a poetic songbook.
Now, as Bronski Beat and the Gershwins might have whispered, it ain't necessarily so.
Over the last few weeks we have seen Google redesign the little logo on your browser, choosing an unassuming little g to replace the biblical capital it used to employ.
We have heard Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt reveal that the "Do No Evil" mantra is actually a rule that "allows for conversation".
And we have been appraised of Sergei Brin's plan to take a holiday in space.
Let's pretend all these things are part of a strategy for a moment. A strategy called: "Alright, you've got us. We're a big ole' company now. And what's wrong with that?"
So let's start with the little redesign.
You don't redesign the whole logo- just the part of it most people are likely to see every day. In my rookie days as a tech ignoramus besmirching ZDNet's Between the Lines, I suggestedthat Google needed to modernize its slightly kindergarten logo.
Much defensive emotion ensued. Yet here we are, the eyebrows are being trimmed.
Then, in what seems like a casual aside to one of the more famous journalists and an influential audience, you explain that all that do-gooding stuff, well, c'mon, you didn't really believe we were missionaries, did you?
You did? Well, um, our missionary position has changed.
Of course we debate things, but, really, China is evil? Advertising is evil? How could that be? Golf started in China. And Salman Rushdie started in advertising. See, no evil there.
Did you see that? That was the visit to the shrink.
Finally there's the late meeting with the attractive co-worker.
Well, when Google announces that one of its founders is off to space, you know that your company is now firmly established, as, well, part of the establishment.
When Sergei Brin declares he intends to do the very same as Virgin's Richard Branson, then you know that your public relations is entering a very conventional, if (or, perhaps, therefore) entertaining phase.
If Mr. Brin had announced free plastic surgery for all employees, or his intention to found a church in Waco, Texas, then perhaps there might have remained a claim to outsiderdom.
But the old space travel thing? Perhaps not.
So please forgive me for suggesting the Google strategy is changing.
Idealism has run off to Vegas, married realism and taken its new spouse's name. It's OK. There'll still be a nice party when they get back.
How's the share price, honey?