It was an April Fool's Day joke so nice, you had to flush it twice. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) cut loose with another annual yesterday. Visitors to the Google home page were pitched the promise of "FREE breakthrough broadband with Google TiSP (BETA)."
Following the link introduced readers to the free -- yet very fake -- in-home WiFi service. Consumers would flush a spindle of fiber optic cable down their toilets, hooking the other end to a wireless router.
Like most clever pranks, there is a bit of self-effacing truth behind the well-intended guffaw. The "BETA" tag is no doubt intentional, as Google loves to keep many of its products in beta for ages. Gmail itself has now spent the last three years in beta. The "FREE" nature of this service also plays into Google's push in providing WiFi and WiMax connectivity gratis in large markets.
Coming from a company like The Motley Fool, where April Fool's Day jokes have been annual traditions since the mid-1990s, it's neat to see the Internet's most valuable company taking the time to entertain.
If there's one beef I have with yesterday's Toilet Internet Service Provider (TiSP) joke, it's that it let readers in on the gag too quickly. The best April Fool's Day jokes draw readers in slowly, hoodwinking as many as possible along the way. This one went for the jugular (which I'm told is connected to the funny bone) too soon. I'm sorry, Google; you lost me at commode.
Let's go over some of the past Google gags:
- Google Romance introduced a new contextually based dating service.
- We also had Google Gulp, a line of "smart drinks" that make you surf the Web more efficiently.
- Let's not forget about the engineering job opportunity at the lunar hosting and research center in outer space.
- There was also the notion that pigeon pecking could make Google's search algorithms better.
- The MentalPlex gag in 2000 had searchers communicate their intentions telepathically.
The best of Google's gags often revolve around the truth. I felt that the joke was on Google with last year's Google Romance prank, because that's where its search engine competitors were pitching their pick-up line tents. Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) has relied on its dating personals to provide welcome subscription revenue for years. And Ask.com parent IAC (Nasdaq: IACI ) also owns Match.com, uDate, and Chemistry.com.
Google Gulp never left alternative beverage makers like Hansen Natural (Nasdaq: HANS ) and Jones Soda (Nasdaq: JSDA ) breaking a sweat, but have you seen Google's online store lately? Branded Frisbees, blinking pins, and light-up pens are there for the buying. It's really just a matter of time before Google energy drinks and bean bag chairs are available. What's that? Bean bag chairs are available? Well, there you go.
It's funny because it's true
Naturally, some gags get even better with time. Google's intergalactic job opening was farcical three years ago. Google hooked up with NASA to announce the very real NASA Research Park a year later. Concepts like MentalPlex and PigeonRank were a hoot a few years ago, but haven't search engine algorithms evolved to the point where they can almost guess where they want to go to next?
And what about Google Romance? No, it doesn't exist. However, you can go to Google Base, click on Personals, and read profiles on more than 120,000 potential dates. They are mostly entries culled from the popular dating sites, but it's a start.
"I'll go out on a limb and predict that as funny as Google Romance may be, in three years or less we'll be talking about Google Romance as the real deal," I wrote last year.
I stand by that limb, with two years left before it snaps on me.
As for toilet-based broadband with Google's GFlush technology, even the luxury of a courtesy flush won't be enough to find me predicting the eventuality of that one. While organizations like Viacom (NYSE: VIA ) , the Author Guild, and the Association of American Publishers are knocking on your door as suers, you still found levity in the sewer.
Nice! Keep on rocking, Google. Don't you ever lose that edge.
Yahoo! has been a Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter pick for nearly as long as Google's April Fool's Day pranks. A free30-day trial subscription will enlighten you all April long.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a huge fan of Google, and it would be his homepage if it weren't for Fool.com taking up that piece of real estate. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.