In a very interesting move, Google is now indicating if you are logged in when you are on their homepage (see red box in image above). This is a very interesting move in that it is taking them one deep step closer to “portal” land. But I think what is more interesting is how their homepage is, relatively speaking (of course), getting more cluttered now that there are several new services they are exposing on the homepage.
For the longest time, they have stayed true to their original simple design, and that has been a key factor in their growth. However, with all the new services they are launching and testing out via Google Labs for example, I think they may be challenged to keep the homepage uncluttered and focused on search while still giving equal exposure to new products such as Gmail, Google Maps and others. As the homepage stands now, I think its getting messy and looking a little amature-ish.
What is more interresting is when you look at the overall market that includes Yahoo, AOL, and now Google. Yahoo has always been the leader in the market and they have evolved from just an Web based service to one that includes several software applications that extend the Yahoo experience to the desktop. AOL started as a software application on the desktop that extended to the Internet. Now, they are going to focus more on Internet/Web based services while still offering the desktop software applications (AOL Client, AIM, etc.). And now Google is doing the same thing, with desktop applications such as Desktop Search, Gmail Notifier, etc. It seems that all of these online services are meeting at the desktop in a war to control how users access different services. And I have not even mentioned Microsoft, who still own the desktop but have been awful quiet recently.
It will be interesting to see how they evolve the homepage to bring forward the new features they are launching without detracting from their core Search product.
Update: In another interesting move, Google introduced a personalized homepage which pretty much signifies that they have jumped into the portal pool with both feet.