Google is famous for its yearly April Foolery. This year, Google targeted the storage industry, issuing a release in its Google Docs blog stating that in addition to its document storage, it would offer physical storage. Google claimed it would store anything. Google would charge $0.10 per kilogram for uploads and downloads. Then, it claimed, users could use “CTRL-F” to find objects around the house such as keys and remote controls. Furthermore, users could share their stored items – just as they can share Google Documents – with other users, anywhere in the world.
“Store your keys, remotes, rail passes, and other objects you commonly lose with Google Docs, and you’ll never have to worry about finding them again,” wrote Peter Harbison, a Google Product Marketing Manager, in the Google Docs Blog for April 1. “Having trouble moving your piano from New York to California? Change your mind and want to share it with your friend in England instead? No problem. With one click you can have your piano delivered to anyone you choose, anywhere in the world.”
Harbison’s blog entry included a hyperlink to a Google Docs page inviting users to test the product’s beta phase. The site included a button for users to click to “sign up to test store anything.”
“Yes, we mean anything,” the site promised, showing pictures of a beach ball, a cat, a set of keys, and two lava lamps, and claiming, “The first 1000 people who qualify will get a metric ton of storage for free!” The site also offered free pickup and delivery of physical items using a courier network integrated with its Google Maps Street View fleet, and guaranteed that couriers would arrive within three hours to pick up anything users wanted to store.
Google also included phony testimonials. “House Surfer” Michael B., commented, “Since I uploaded my condo to Google Docs I can sleep in my own bed regardless of where I am. It gives a whole new meaning to don’t leave home without it.” Pet owner Sara J explained, “Our dog Jingles hates to fly on planes, but we got her all the way to Chicago for pennies without a scratch!” And sports enthusiast Peter H noted, “Wish I had this during the big game, could have shared pizza with my buddies in NYC!”
If users clicked on the “sign up to store anything” button, the site took them to a survey titled, “Welcome to the Google Docs April Fools Joke: Store Anything.” There, users could input their email address and note what items they would like to store in Google Docs. The final question on the survey asked, “Why should you get to test store anything?”
Google Document users responded enthusiastically to the joke. “I just uploaded my mom and I didn’t save it,” commented one user. “Now I can’t find her. Help!” Another user wrote, “I think I need some help. I’m about to upload myself. Could someone on the Support Desk hit download in about 5 minutes?”
Google’s past April Fool’s Day hoaxes have included: an announcement of a new search engine called Mentalplex that would search the user’s mind, the development of a fictitious d
rink called Google Gulp, a parody of online dating called Google Romance, an offer to send Gmail users paper snail mail copies of all their emails, the release of a new broadband Internet service provider called Google TISP (Toilet Internet Service Provider) that would use sewage lines to provide Internet connectivity, and gDay (which was announced in Australia), a beta search engine that would search web pages the day before they were created.
This year’s hoaxes were not limited only to Google’s storage project. Yesterday, the site also temporarily changed its name to Topeka, to honor the gesture made by Topeka, Kansas, in March, when it temporarily changed its name to Google. Google also changed its Google Maps Australia driving directions to use Australian slang, giving users advice such as “Hang a right,” “Chuck a left,” and using the phrase “You might have to cough up some cash along here” to indicate toll booths.