Images on Google home page: great PR for Bing?

Yesterday, in order to promote the ability, rolled out last week, for you to be able to set your own background image on the home page, Google turned on the feature internationally for a 24 hour period, according to a blog post from Google VP Marissa Meyer:

Included in the collection are photographs of the works of Dale Chihuly, Jeff Koons, Tom Otterness, Polly Apfelbaum, Kengo Kuma (隈研吾), Kwon, Ki-soo (권기수) and Tord Boontje, as well as some incredible photos from Yann Arthus-Bertrand and National Geographic. We’ll be featuring these images as backgrounds on the Google homepage over the next 24 hours.

Here’s one of the images, featuring the work of glass blowing artist Dale Chihuly:


While perhaps kind of cool (although missing the element of ‘surprise and delight’ that the Bing home page brings every day), the move has upset Google purists and generated a lot of press, nearly all of it comparing Google to Bing, or mentioning Bing in some way. The story is as of this writing riding the top of Techmeme, as TechCrunch calls the page “slightly Bing-ified”, Silicon Alley Insider calls it a “Bing Impersonation”, Lifehacker has instructions on how to turn off the “Bing-like” background image”, and ZDNET blog Between the lines agree with us that it’s been a “banner week for Bing” (they include news about Apple’s decision to include Bing on the iPhone and Safari).  Even though Yusuf Mehdi wouldn’t reveal how much Bing paid to get on the iPhone, he’s got to be laughing all the way to the bank with the free publicity the Google home page image is generating for Bing.  Thanks, Google!

Update:  Google has pulled the 24 hour experiment to provide background images, according to a tweet from Marissa Meyer.  You are still able to set your own home page background image.  As some of our commenters have pointed out, the Bing home page is more than just a static image, with links to info about the subject matter, etc.  That being said, would you like the ability to set your own home page image in Bing?