Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave a rare in-depth look into Google’s motivations, decisions and future plans at the first Techonomy conference in Tahoe, California on Wednesday afternoon. Schmidt touched on Google Wave, Android, the Verizon and net neutrality issue, China, and Google’s social strategy. Check out the full 40-minute video clip below, and here’s some of the highlights:
Verizon and Net Neutrality:
We have been talking to Verizon for a long time about trying to get an agreement on the definition of what net neutrality is. We’re trying to find solutions that bridge between the hardcore net neutrality view and the telecom view.
I want to be clear what we mean by net neutrality. What we mean is if you have one data type like video, you don’t discriminate against one person’s video in favor of another. But it’s OK to discriminate across different types, so you could prioritize voice over video, and there is general agreement with Verizon and Google on that issue. The issues of wireless vs. wireline get very messy because of the issue of Type I vs Type II regulation and that is an FCC issue not a Google issue.
Demise of Google Wave:
What happened was we liked the UI and we liked a lot of the new features in it but it didn’t get enough traction. So we’re taking those technologies and applying them to new technologies that are not announced. So basically we’ll get the benefits of Google Wave but not as a separate product. It’s a very clever product and we liked it what it could do. We try things and remember we celebrate our failures. It’s absolutely OK to try something very hard, have it not be successful, take the learning from that and then apply it to something new. In that sense Wave is a exact analog. Would I have loved version 1 to be hugely successful and have five gazillion users, absolutely.
As a culture we dont over-promote products that haven’t been announced, we release it and see what happens. It works, you announce product, you ship it, initial adoption period, a fall-off, and then a second growth period. That second growth is a high predictor of what will happen.
The Success of Android:
Our measurements are that we’re activating 200,000 new Androids a day. It was about 100,000 2 months ago. So it’s that growth rate to the 6th, so if current compounding goes it will be bigger than the planet. Some of the reasons for that is the Droid X is so popular now. Samsung just announced the Galaxy and there are many more hardware partners coming. Android is incredibly phenomenal in its growth rate. Remember we make the majority of our money on advertising and the powerful browser that is in Android when people search — they click on ads and that revenue goes to Google. And trust me that revenue is large enough to pay for all of Android activities and a whole bunch more.
I should also say we love the success of the iPhone, because the iPhone also uses Google search and we get a good chunk of that revenue when people search on the iPhone. The iPhone, followed by Android, brought about these WebKit-centric browsers that are sufficiently powerful that you can do real mobile computing.
Google’s Social Strategy:
There’s been a lot of leaks and some have been correct and some have not been correct. We’ve always believed that our products would be better with more social signals. So a typical example would be your searches, if you give us your permission, would be better if we knew something about the cultural context of how you and your friends operate. Your email spam would be better if we understand about what your friends thought was spam vs. valuable things. There’s example after example how having access to a robust social graph that’s reasonably well-curated can improve the quality of the services of what Google does. We’re not trying to do what Facebook does. It needs technologies around friends and relationships to be provided to everything.