News Column

April Fools' Day Pranks in Business

April 2, 2013

Elliot Njus

In journalism, there's a saying: "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." If your mother says she loves you on April 1, better just ask again tomorrow. Here's a list of some pranks in the business world on April Fools' Day 2013.

Google: The search and media giant is famous for its April Fools' Day gags. This year, it's announcing that it's close to announcing a "winner" of streaming site YouTube -- and then ending the contest.

That one might hit close to home for fans of RSS service Google Reader, which is shutting down July 1 for real. Don't worry, though: Google also announced new services, including Gmail Blue -- an apparent dig at Microsoft's Windows Blue -- and Google Nose, to help you answer the question "What's that smell?" SafeSearch included.

And Google Maps adds a treasure map filter. Via commenter Vic Blaine:

Go to google maps, treasure mode... zoom in on Portland, and you'll notice, there's a bird on it.

Microsoft: Entering "Google" into the Microsoft search engine Bing reveals a sendup of the more minimalist search giant.

Twitter: The 140-character microblogging service announces a two-tiered model in which subscribing customers will have access to a special feature: vowels. Users of Twttr, the free version -- and a throwback to Twitters original name -- will still be able to tweet -- well, twt -- but without a, e, i, o or u.

Sony: Portlanders love their pets, so Sony's new line of electronics for dogs, cats and hamsters might have some appeal here -- if it were real.

Seattle Bubble Blog: The blog that chronicled the housing downturn in Seattle and often jabbed real estate professionals for their Pollyannaism announces its becoming a brokerage (and keeping "Bubble" in the name).

Redfin: The Seattle real estate firm announces the discovery of a red-finned shark in the Puget Sound, and that the company is adopting it as its mascot. Apparently, the firm's somewhat bizarre name is actually an anagram of the words "finder" and "friend."

Scope: Because minty freshness isn't for everyone, the mouthwash maker announces a new bacon flavor. (Update: Apparently it's still unclear whether this is a joke.)

Virgin Atlantic: Richard Branson's airline announces a new, glass-bottomed airplane.

Subaru: The carmaker "takes all of the media and internet rumors surrounding the highly successful BRZ sports car and delivers them in one fell swoop."

Toshiba: The electronics maker announces the first inflatable laptop -- somewhat disappointingly, just a normal laptop with an inner tube underneath. Correction: That was a previous year's prank. This year, the company brings us the Shibasphere, a motion-control gaming console that will measure aggression and "deploy psychological therapeutics" when things get too intense.

Vimeo: The video-hosting service rebrands as Vimeow, your home for cat videos. (Update: Oberlin College in Ohio went with the same joke.)



Source: (c) 2013 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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