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Google Should Not Be Tempted to Give Up the Sanctity of Its Home Page

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Google is running a one-line ad on its home page -- perhaps the most valuable real estate online -- for its new Nexus One mobile telephone. This is notable for the reason that Google has been single-minded in preserving its home page as a temple for its brand, which seeks to organize all the world's information and deliver it fast and reliably.

A line or two does not do much to undermine the sanctity of Google's home page. It does not necessarily pervert the sense of mission. But these small cracks have a way of letting water in that eventually erodes foundations. Accordingly, I'm not sure I'd be as enthusiastic as Spark Partners analyst, Adam Hartung, was in the story about the event in MediaPost. Said Mr. Hartung:

"The company [Google] has something that almost seems like a religious idol. This ad demonstrates that Google is willing to change that and attack a sacred cow to step the company forward...And that's a very good sign for investors."

Google has plenty of irons in the fire trying to take the company forward, some of which approach science fiction. It's tether to reality has always been its home page. Adam Hartung's exortation to let go of sacred cows is the very sort of temptation in which the broader analyst community so often and so dangerously trades - whatever the business sector. It is a sell-your-soul kind of temptation. And it is never good for investors in the long run.

Al Ries has practical things to say along these lines in an Ad Age piece yesterday. Google investors should read-up.