Hey look – it’s 1996 all over again

Yet another Google product launch, and yet another collective yawn – or worse, a quizzical look and a shrug of the shoulders. What the heck is Google Page Creator supposed to be? You go there, type in some text, maybe drag an image, change the font, choose a template and away you go. Google publishes and hosts the page at yourname.googlepages.com and you get 100 megabytes of space. Does this sound at all familiar? It does to The Blog Herald, and to Jim Benson at J. LeRoy and others – including me. It sounds like GeoCities.

Remember them? They were one of those great website-creation tools that sprang up in the late 1990s and quickly tried to outdo each other in the low-price, garish design sweepstakes. It got to a point where I refused to even go to a webpage if it had a GeoCities.com address. Nevetheless, there were plenty of similar services – including TheGlobe, which saw the largest increase in market value ever on the day of an IPO. It later disappeared, but GeoCities was bought by none other than Yahoo for $3.6-billion.

Apart from the use of AJAX, which makes it that much faster to create a crappy website, Google’s page creator is like going back in time. Richard MacManus of ZDNet wonders whether it isn’t part of a much-rumoured Google Office suite of some kind, a sort of proto-word processor. Matthew Gifford feels the same. But Nik Cubrilovic says it looks like just another lame product rolled out the door with too little thought, like Google Base or Froogle.com, and I must say I’m leaning in that direction myself. Maybe it’s part of a larger strategy, but if so then the rest of the strategy better look pretty damn good, because this is lame.

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