Google CEO Offers Insight on Company's Future, Privacy Issues

Google CEO Larry Page, in a blog post, described Google's key focus for 2012: creating a better, more intuitive experience. Which means getting to know you better.

Google CEO Larry Page posted a 2012 Update on the company's Investor Relations page, talking up the decisions he's made over the last year, what Google is and isn't doing, and the excitement that he says underscores the work Googlers do. Google, he suggested, is a big company with the soul of a startup.

"Since becoming CEO again," Page wrote, "I've pushed hard to increase our velocity, improve our execution, and focus on the big bets that will make a difference in the world."

Making a difference in the world is a major driver for Page, and making a simpler, more intuitive, more naturally integrated experience is a major goal for Google. Accomplishing both of these increasingly requires understanding identity and relationships, which is an area that's responsible for both Google's growing success and the increasing discomfort some feel about it.

"Imagine how much better search would be if we added you," wrote Page. "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."

Privacy--or the adding of you to such searches--is a growing area of contention. U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., in a speech to the American Bar Association last week, described Google and Facebook as essentially large advertising companies that disregard users privacy.

Google and Facebook are, essentially, tremendously innovative and profitable advertising companies. Google, for instance, took in $37.9 billion in revenue last year--$36.5 billion of which was in advertising. These companies profitability depends in large part on their ability to target ads to you, which in turn depends in large part on what they know about you, Franken said in his speech, according to the Search Engine Journal.

He later added, "Accumulating data about you isn't just a strange hobby for these corporations. It s their whole business model. And you are not their client. You are their product."

This article was originally published on 04-09-2012
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