Larry Page Issues Annual Google Founder’s Letter: Search Remains a Priority as Google Invests in Revolutionary Change
Google’s co-founder, Larry Page, issued his annual Founder’s Letter earlier today—a missive that Google has published every year since it went public. The “2013 Founder’s Letter” highlighted some of Google’s achievements and gave readers a fascinating glimpse into some of the company’s groundbreaking future projects.
“Sergey and I started Google because we wanted ‘to develop services that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible’ (Founders’ IPO Letter, 2004). We’ve stayed true to that mission, placing long-term bets on new technologies that users truly love—from Search to Gmail, Maps, Chrome, YouTube, and Android,” stated Page in the letter. “We’ve covered a lot of ground in a short [span] of time and so people naturally ask, what is Google today, and where [is Google] heading?”
The Continuing Development of Google Search
Page affirmed that providing users access to the world’s information is still Google’s main goal, in the belief “that access to knowledge will improve humankind”. Access to knowledge can make a tremendous difference in the lives of individuals—from people who are trying to avoid traffic to farmers in Africa who’ve used Google search to learn how to safeguard their potato crops.
Google search continues to grow in relevance and traffic: more than 100 billion searches are performed every month (15% which have never been seen before), and Google now updates its index within seconds to ensure the freshest results.
Moreover, Google’s recent algorithmic breakthrough, known as Hummingbird, has led to huge leaps in semantic and conversational search. Hence, Google search is increasingly able to provide direct answers to users’ questions.
Google has also made tremendous progress with Voice Search (which allows mobile and computer users to make voice-activated searches). Google Voice Search now operates in 38 languages—with Thai and Vietnamese being the most recent breakthroughs. According to Page, Google is focusing on Voice Search because speaking, not typing keywords, is the quickest and easiest way to initiate a search, especially on a mobile device.
On the other hand, Page admits that Google is still “a million miles away” from creating the search engine of his dreams, which he defines as a product that can get users the right information at the exact moment they need it with almost no effort. Recommendations from Google+, which are based on the interests of its users, are also helping Google understand user context.
Navigating Effortlessly Across a Multi-Screen World
“As devices proliferate, it becomes more and more important to ensure that you can navigate effortlessly across them,” stated Page. Google’s Chrome browser, according to Page, is both fast and secure, and is designed to work seamlessly across various devices.
Google+ was built with multi-screen usability in mind, and the platform instantly uploads photos to the web so that they can be viewed on any device. Page also highlighted the enormous growth of the Android market (more than a billion activated devices and counting), as well as the increasing profits being earned by app developers.
Google Invests in Revolutionary Change
Perhaps one of the most intriguing takeaways from the letter was Page’s commitment to revolutionary rather than evolutionary change. Page believes that incremental changes are a death sentence for technological companies, since technological change tends to be revolutionary rather than evolutionary.
The company is diversifying its research and investment into other fields, ranging from the practical (contact lenses that will improve the lives of diabetes patients) and visionary (the development of artificial intelligence), to the downright bizarre (self-driving cars, anyone?).
On the flipside, the letter failed to mention some of Google’s most recent woes, including legal investigations and anti-competition claims in India and Canada, as well as the controversial “right to be forgotten” directive that could drastically impact SERPs in the EU.
Instead, Page chose to focus on the positive side, and did a pretty good job of reassuring the public that Google remains a positive force that is changing the world.
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