The company is focusing on those markets where it currently does not lead. It looks like the new Web designs for Taiwan and Hong Kong will follow Korea’s lead — with more content, more animation, more everything.
Google cites the need to take advantage of the higher broadband speeds, which is certainly one good reason. But there is also the simple fact that austere Web designs have not (to this point) gone over very well with most Asian countries.
Does this mean that Google is sacrificing its identity to succeed in Asia? Perhaps. If, five years from now, tastes in Asia veer toward the austere, Google could find itself out-Googled by someone else.
It’s easy to be austere when you’re a one-trick pony, as was the case for Google six years ago. But it’s hard to be austere when you have so many different applications to offer. Even the new Apple iPhone, which is widely praise for its simplicity, features 16 icons on its home page (with more to come).
Perhaps feature-creep is just a fact of life for maturing Web sites. It wasn’t that long ago that Amazon featured only books on its home page and Yahoo! was little more than a one-column layout.