Google justified the move by saying it "takes advantage of faster broadband speeds in those markets", but the real reason might be that the simple Google homepage doesn't work well there. "We think [the new design] will be more appropriate for the local cultures, and their context, and their broadband connections, which, for example in Korea, are extraordinarily fast," said Sergey Brin.
It's not the first change that reflects Google's intention to gain more market share in countries where it's not the leader in search: China, Russia, Korea. Google expanded its local presence in China by building custom services, launched a Q&A service in Russia and a new homepage in Korea.
Will these small compromises erode Google's philosophy? Will we still see the classic Google homepage in 5 years?
Google's experimental homepage for Hong Kong