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March 27, 2008

A Letter from Larry Page

Tech~Surf~Blog posts a letter from Larry Page included in Google's Annual Report for 2007. Some interesting excerpts with my emphasis:
Search is a really hard problem. To do a perfect job, you would need to understand all the world's information, and the precise meaning of every query. With all that understanding, you would then have to produce the perfect answer instantly. We are making significant progress, but remain a long way from perfection. We're so serious about improving search that more than a third of our people are working on it. (...)

Sometimes you don't get a good answer to a search because the information simply isn't available on the web. So we are working hard to encourage ecosystems that can generate more content from more authors and creators. For example, we recently announced an early version of a tool called "knol" to help people generate and organize more high-quality authored content. (...)

Advertising is even harder than search. Not only do you have to find the right ad for every situation, but you have to handle paying customers! We have developed very sophisticated advertising systems designed to benefit both users and advertisers. For users, we strive to produce relevant advertising as good as the main content or search results. For advertisers, we provide tools to target and tune their advertising and accurately measure the results of their spending. (...)

We are still keeping to our long-standing plan of devoting 70% of our resources to search and advertising. We debate where we should classify our Apps (Gmail, Docs, etc.) products, but they currently fall into the 20% of resources we devote to related businesses. We use the remaining 10% of our resources on areas that are farther afield but have huge potential, such as Android. We strongly believe that allocating modest resources to new areas is crucial to continuing to innovate. This 10% of our resources generates a tremendous amount of interest and press, precisely because these projects are different and new. Often, we find small teams of only a few people suddenly command huge attention worldwide. That's useful to keep in mind as you read about Google-the vast majority of our resources are working on our core businesses: search and advertising. (...)

We have made tremendous strides in our web applications. I am writing this using Google Docs. I don't have to worry that my computer hard drive might fail and lose my work, because it is automatically being saved into the Google network cloud. (...) We've started the next phase in productivity software. That phase is about working with everyone seamlessly and effortlessly. Our goal is fast, easy access to create or share from any computer in the world. No futzing with software required. Just open your browser. (...)

While almost all of our effort is focused on important improvements to core search and advertising, the small percentage left over is producing a lot of important innovation and even more notice from the world.

It's interesting to notice that Google is still mostly about search and ads, while the other efforts try to encourage creating more content that should improve the search results in the future. Larry Page says that "systems that facilitate high-quality content creation and editing are crucial for the Internet's continued growth", so this is one of the explanations why Google bought Blogger, YouTube or Writely.

{ via Feld Thoughts }

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