Think of the challenge for Google: trying to come up with a story so outrageous that no one would actually believe it for its annual April Fool's prank. Problem is, trade journalists, tech watchers and conspiracy theorists are ready to believe anything they hear about the search behemoth.
Why is the company buying so much dark fiber? Oh yes, to set up its own Internet. Are they making a Gphone? Damn straight. Can they drive Microsoft out of business? It's only a matter of time.
Remember, there are folks who obsessively scour the Internet full-time looking for clues to Google's business plans. Large and respected publications write about the minutiae of life in the Googleplex, from the gourmet fare served in the cafeteria to the shuttle that brings employees to work.
As our Ken-Hardin wondered recently: "So, why is it so much fun to read random speculation about what Google will do next?" We'll be darned if we know, but people -- including us -- can't seem to stop doing it.
Here's how we envision the meeting at which the Google folks came up with the prank: "Why don't we say that we're going to annex Canada and turn into one big data center. That'd be hilarious. Nah, it could wreak havoc on international relations if people bought it. We don't need that kind of hassle."
Hours later, after rejecting idea after idea, someone finally said: "Look, why don't we just say we've figured out a way to access the Internet through the toilet. Surely, nobody will believe that. If they do, so what?"
The idea provided ample fodder for the company to have a little fun in the mock press release announcing the product, referencing its "toilet ISP team" and mentioning the service would be especially handy for "those users who, like Larry (Page, Google co-founder and president) himself, do much of their best thinking in the bathroom."
It also gave observers a chance to play along by saying that "Google's business is in the toilet" -- an impulse that we almost, but not quite, managed to resist.
By the way, interest in the prank has placed it on the front page of Google News this morning.