Its feats may include self-driving cars, wearable technology and a platform that powers more than one billion mobile devices, but Google is still a long way from being the company that founder Larry Page envisages.
The company just published its annual note to investors, which is dated 2013 but is new, ahead of its annual financial results. In the letter, Page lays out where Google is at with its efforts to make information easier to access and more useful for people today.
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Search is Google’s primary service, and Page says that the company sees more than 100 billion searches made per month, of which “a whopping” 15 percent are for new terms and requests. Page says Google updates its index within seconds, which allows it to provide quicker responses to commonly asked questions.
Beyond responding to what users want, Google is increasingly focusing on providing information when you need, via Google Now. Page says the search engine of his dreams — “one that gets you just the right information at the exact moment you need it with almost no effort” — is still “a million miles away.”
That said, he does believe that Google Now and Google+ — the much maligned service shrouded in uncertainty of late after losing its head of product — are providing a different kind of content discovery mechanism, one that adapts and learns from its users and their tastes to surface content independently.
“Improved context will also help make search more natural, and not a series of keywords you artificially type into a computer. We’re getting closer: ask how tall the Eiffel Tower is, and then when “it” was built. By understanding what “it” means in different contexts, we can make search conversational,” Page writes.
In the remainder of the letter, Page emphasizes the importance of design — Google is notably testing a redesign for Gmail right now — and presses the importance of broadening global internet access. Project Loon is, of course, Google’s effort at the latter problem, while Page also makes mention of Calico, Google’s offshoot focused on health, its Shopping Express service, which recently launched in San Francisco and New York, and its self-driving car project.
“Sixteen years after we started Google, we’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible,” he concludes.
Headline image via Justin Sullivan / AFP / Getty Images