Google 'a million miles away from creating the search engine of my dreams,' says Larry Page

Google 'a million miles away from creating the search engine of my dreams,' says Larry Page

Summary: The search engine chief commits to a new generation of big bets, including some ideas that look "pretty crazy" today but may pay off down the line.

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The chief executive of search to self-driving-cars giant Google says there is still plenty to do before the company creates the perfect search engine.

In his annual 'Founder's Letter', published ahead of the company's annual shareholder meeting, Google chief executive Larry Page listed some of the "long-terms bets on new technology" the search company has made, and explained the motivation behind some of them.

"Information is Google's core," Page said, noting that more than 100 billion Google searches are conducted each month — 15 percent of which are never-before-asked new queries.

The search engine is working on being able to provide direct answers to questions rather than just a list of results, said Page, adding that Voice Search now works in 38 languages.

But despite these advances, Page admitted that "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".

Google Now is one part of the company's effort to tackle this, by providing information in a timely manner. Understanding context is another element, with Page noting that advances here are "crucial if we are to improve human-computer interaction".

Page said: "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."

Page also highlighted the growth of Android — one billion Android devices have now been activated — and said that, on average, Android developers earned four times more from user payments in 2013 than they did the year before. "We're now taking Android to wearables, like watches, and to cars, where we can make it super easy to get directions, make a call or play music," he added.

Page also stressed that simplicity remains an essential virtue for Google: "People still talk about the simplicity of the Google homepage, and that was a huge part of our original success. There's no reason the same principles can't apply across our products, especially now, with so many devices and options, and so much opportunity for distraction."

Google's CEO found room to be critical of the level of innovation in the industry: "It's also true that over time many companies get comfortable doing what they have always done, with a few incremental changes. This kind of incrementalism leads to irrelevance over time, especially in technology, because change tends to be revolutionary, not evolutionary."  

To avoid such a fate, Page said, Google is investing in "our next generation of big bets". These include healthcare company Calico and smart contact lens company Iris, plus thermostat maker Nest, and self-driving cars.

"These seem like pretty crazy ideas today, but if the past is any indicator of our future success, today's big bets won't seem so wild in a few years' time," he said.  

But it's also worth noting that, despite all these technology big bets, around 90 percent of Google's revenue still comes from advertising

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  • Google is a LONG way indeed from a perfect search engine

    Unfortunately Google has structured their search engine in such a way that popularity of the search is a major factor in how results are presented. This is great if you are a typical drone, with interests in step with the majority of people. Unfortunately for me, as my interests are NOT typical, and my searches often are for pretty esoteric things this mitigates against me at every step. No matter how carefully I word my search terms, Google steps in and says "no you really want this", and gives me a load of garbage up front. It assumes that I don't really know what I'm looking for, and need to be led like a lost lamb back to the herd. This is exasperating beyond description. To make matters worse, they have eliminated the ability to easily search within a set of results. Instead of "search within", you are now required to keep adding search criteria to a search string manually. The results I want are usually deeply buried under 6 million hits, NOT because they don't match my search criteria better than those on top, but because the probability that they are what I am looking for based on the majority of people's interests is low. There are no "weeding tools" where I can simply eliminate everything from a given URL, or any result that contains a particular word or phrase. It all has to be typed in manually. Google's efforts to created the perfect search engine clearly works for the majority........... it doesn't work for me...........IT SUCKS!!

    H.W.
    **owly**
    • Another engine?

      Is there a competing search engine that works better for you? If so, I suggest you use that one instead of Google.

      Call me crazy but I don't see Google modifying their base algorithm just for you.
      MajorlyCool
    • I agree

      I find that more a company tries to be 'smart', the worse the results are. The same is true for Facebook and their 'Top Stories' news feed algorithm. No matter how often I tell Facebook that I want 'Most Recent' or Google that I want 'Past Year' results they assume I'm an idiot and they know better.
      johnd126
    • please stick to the same username

      I'm tired of adding you again and again to my troll blocking extension.
      Jean-Pierre-
    • Google is a LONG way indeed from a perfect search engine

      Use Quora instead.
      aspacsa
  • Google search is getting worse

    Google search is getting worse. It reinterprets what I try to search, using search terms which I did not indicated and I did not want to use. When I use the form field for terms that must be in the results, it presents pages which do not contain all the terms I used for my query. The relevance of the results drops drastically after the first page. Results are duplicated page after page. I liked Google search, but it is a mess now.
    Rub2014
  • Bad search engine, bad customer treatment, bad programming, bad spamming

    Have you noticed? The spammers infecting ZDnet and other computer magazines with their Asian girl pictures and kissy hearts, are all advertising pay from Google, then provide links which you'd be a fool to click on.

    Have you noticed? It's impossible to use Youtube now, and most unpleasant in every way, given the imposition of Google Plus.

    Have you noticed? Everyone who buys Glass, gets a bad reputation, as if they were spies. For Google is deemed the consummate spy.

    Have you noticed? Gmail's interface has tanked, horrible now to use, as is every other Google product, constantly changing in unintuitive ways. And daft MSFT and Firefox are populated with seed-pod people, copying the stupidity Google does.

    So have you noticed? OF COURSE Google search engine is bad, because they aren't spending enough time on it to make it good, but instead wasting theirs and the users time and money doing the above nonsense.

    So have you noticed? Google's reputation is tanking. I wouldn't buy anything from it, if you paid me.-
    brainout
  • Google

    This should always be true. By the time you reach the goal you are aiming for a better, more innovative, more exciting, more breakthrough goal should already be forming if not completely formed.
    techsplycer
  • Google is in it for the money

    It is bad enough with their ads but then you have paid ads looking like a search engine result shown at the top of your search list.
    They can pay all they want. I won't touch them.
    Gisabun
  • Google Haters are losing their way ...

    This was a great thread for Google Haters to show the world they aren't simply pointy-hatters - they have a real, intelligent position. Or do they?

    Amongst all the bile and silliness, we get ONE alternative suggestion: Quora.

    Google wants to create an engine that gets you "just the right information at the exact moment you need it with almost no effort"

    The Haters want us to use Quora, which gets you three racist, misogynistic responses in three days, and no useful answer at all, for 3 queries out of 5.

    Go Guys; Quora is clearly the future for search. In the tinfoil Universe, anyway.
    Heenan73