Alan Williamson attended a presentation from Marissa Mayer, a product manager at Google, and blogged it. Highlights:
1. The prime reason the Google home page is so bare is due to the fact that the founders didn't know HTML and just wanted a quick interface. In fact, it was noted that the submit button was a long time coming and hitting the RETURN key was the only way to burst Google into life.
2. Due to the sparseness of the home page, in early user tests they noted people just sitting looking at the screen. After a minute of nothingness, the tester intervened and asked 'Whats up?,' to which they replied "We are waiting for the rest of it". To solve that particular problem the Google Copyright message was inserted to act as a crude end of page marker....
4. The infamous "I feel lucky" is nearly never used. However, in trials it was found that removing it would somehow reduce the Google experience. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.
Also: "Google Telling 400 People A Secret" They're holding group meetings that include top journalists and tech bloggers, and swearing everyone to secrecy. Journalist Jason Lee Miller is skeptical that a group of people like that can keep quiet.
"Gmail's long-lost Chinese cousin" ISM Gmail claims that Google ripped GMail off from it.