Marissa Mayer is one of the people responsible for the Google homepage and I just discovered a fascinating post from her on the Official Google Blog. It seems that a series of emails lead Marissa to become very aware of the number of words that Google uses on it's homepage. This lead them to adopt a 28 word policy. That means they use no more than 28 words on the basic Google homepage. Therefore when they decided to add a link to their Privacy page then '©2008 Google' dropped the Google to become '©2008'.
One of the reasons for Google's success is the simplicity of it's homepage and so you might wonder why more people don't copy this approach. It's more than a little ironic that the answer is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Google determines a pages page rank by 'reading' the content of the page and looking at what pages link to (and from) that page. Therefore having more relevant text and links on your homepage has the potential to increase your page rank and therefore make your site easier to find on Google. So Google has less words on it's home page so more people will use it to find your site and you must have more words on your home page so Google will let people find it.