Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has been straying far afield from its primary identity as the leading search engine for some time. But it’s hard to separate that view. Chrystia Freeland, editor-at-large for Thomson Reuters (NYSE: TRI), opened up her Paley Center International Council conference Q&A with Nikesh Arora, Google’s president, global sales operations and business development, with a look about the search giant’s approach to innovation. In the world of tomorrow, Google will not just be powering TVs, it will also have a hand in running robotic cars.
While Google’s abilities are expanding, that doesn’t mean the company will be able to do in search what it does in other businesses, Arora admitted, in a statement that seemed designed to get attentive regulators to calm down. It also had the virtue of reflecting a general consensus that media observers have when it comes to divining Google’s affect as it moves from project to project.
Take Google TV for insistence. Arora is careful to note that the system, which seeks to reach into the “digital home” that’s populated by streaming video boxes and web-enabled TV sets, is still new. “You don’t get everything right the first time,” he said. “But you keep experimenting and trying. And that’s what leads to innovation.”
It also leads to competition as “connected devices” will soon be defined simply as “devices” that everyone uses for their media usage. Putting it into context, Arora made a pretty safe prediction, saying that in three- to five years, we’ll all be buying web-enabled TVs. “Consumers won’t distinguish between PC, TV, mobile, tablets, or some device that hasn’t been invented yet,” he said.
Freeland asked Arora about Facebook’s new messaging system that was unveiled earlier this week and was billed as a “Gmail killer,” something Mark Zuckerberg wanly denied.
“In the world of tomorrow, 80- to 90 percent of your media consumption will be on a device connected to the internet in some way,” Arora said. “We don’t write letters anymore; we write e-mails. We do video conferences and even phone calls on the web. We read newspapers and magazines on the web and in apps. With all of this media usage being done in connection with the internet, it is impossible that one single company will help you do all those things. There will be 10, 20 major players — not just us and Facebook.”