Google has released its 2013 Founders’ Letter (yes, it is May, 2014) written by co-founder and CEO Larry Page, who hasn’t been present on the company’s last couple earnings calls.
In it, Page says there are over 100 billion searches a month with 15% of them never seen before. Google updates its index within seconds to ensure it has the freshest results, he says. Here’s the rest of the section on search:
To make life easier, we’re increasingly able to provide direct answers to your questions. For example, “what’s the deepest lake in the world?” (It’s Lake Baikal in Siberia at 1,741 meters) or, “when does my flight leave?” or, “how many calories in a pancake?” And, I am excited by the progress we have made with Voice Search, which now works in over 38 languages, including, most recently, Thai and Vietnamese. Speaking is often the quickest, easiest way to ask, especially if you’re using a mobile device.
Yet, in many ways, we’re a million miles away from creating the search engine of my dreams, one that gets you just the right information at the exact moment you need it with almost no effort. That’s partly because understanding information in a deep way is a hard problem to solve. Google Now is starting to tackle this challenge. It provides information without you even having to ask, so no more digging around in your inbox to find the tracking number for a much-needed delivery; it’s already there on your screen. And recommendations on Google+, which are based on your interests, have also become a great source of information. I get things that are highly relevant all the time, like this YouTube video about the history of kitesurfing that appeared in my stream recently.
While it is still early days, we’ve also made significant progress understanding people’s context, which is crucial if we are to improve human-computer interaction. Think about your commute. You need the traffic information very accessible so you can plan for it, or avoid it altogether. If you’re going to another appointment, you want the directions to start from where you are at that moment (rather than having to type in your location on a small screen). 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.
He goes on to talk about Chrome (750 million users), photos (Google+ Instant Upload), Android (over a billion devices activated and “growing fast”), Android developers (earning four times more on average in 2013 compared to the year before from user payments), Google Play, Chromecast (no numbers on that), Design (he still likes simplicity), Project Loon, Calico (the health/longevity initiative), Iris (the contact lens initiative), Nest, Google Shopping Express, and self-driving cars.
You can read the letter in its entirety here. You might also wish to check out this recent TED talk from Page on where Google’s going next.
Image via YouTube