Larry Page Talks A Lot More About Search Than Social In New Letter

    April 5, 2012
    Chris Crum

In case you were thinking Google is more concerned with social than it is with search these days, perhaps Larry Page’s 2012 Update from the CEO will change your mind. You can find the word “social” used once. You can find the word “search” 23 times (OK, to be fair, Google+ is mentioned 10 times).

Under the heading “Next-Generation Search,” Page says that understanding identity and relationships can help Google improve search.

“Today, most search results are generic, so two strangers sitting next to each other in a café will get very similar answers,” he says. “Yet everyone’s life experiences are unique. We are all knowledgeable about different things; we have different interests and our preferences—for music, food, vacations, sports, movies, TV shows, and especially people—vary enormously.”

“Imagine how much better search would be if we added… you,” he adds. “Say you’ve been studying computer science for awhile like me, then the information you need won’t be that helpful to a relative novice and vice versa. If you’re searching for a particular person, you want the results for that person—not everyone else with the same name. These are hard problems to solve without knowing your identity, your interests, or the people you care about.”

From the sound of it, he basically considers Search Plus Your World, next-generation search.

He does say, “But this kind of next-generation search in which Google understands real-world entities—things, not strings—will help improve our results in exciting new ways. It’s about building genuine knowledge into our search engine.”

That sounds more along the lines of the whole expansion of direct answers discussed in a recent Wall Street Journal report, which we dissected here.

In fact, under another heading – “Taking Actions” – Page talks about how Google puts weather results right on the page, rather than just linking to weather sites. It’s this type of thing, by the way, that some sites aren’t incredibly fond of, and which could ultimately mean less traffic to more sites as Google expands this kind of result.

He then mentions the ITA Software acquisition, which has been very upsetting to some of Google’s competitors in travel search.

From there, he segues into Android (over 850K devices activated daily, 55 manufacturers and 300 carriers) and mobile search (with a little Google Wallet sprinkled in).

“Getting from needs to actions lightning fast is especially important on smaller devices like mobile phones, where screen size is limited and context really matters,” says Page. “That’s why I’m so excited about Android. Take Google Maps, one of our best-loved services. With it, you can search for something, perhaps the nearest bookstore, find it, and be shown the way straight there. And you can now turn your phone into a wallet using… Google Wallet. So you can tap, pay, and save while you shop. No more claiming you left your credit card at home when your friend asks you to pay for lunch!”

The letter gives you a sense of what Google is really trying to do in tying all of its products together (which is reflected in the big, controversial privacy policy update).