I already blogged Sergey Brin's comments on the possibility of a Google office productivity suite. Here are some other quotes from his interview with John Battelle at Web 2.0.
Starting up: The number one success factor for Google was luck. We followed our hearts in terms of research areas and eventually we found we had something useful and we wanted to be impactful about it. We talked about open sourcing the code and working with universities, but it was difficult to do that because of the computational resources required--we needed money to pay for it.
On user-generated content and communications: We have focused on where we can impact something where people to spend a lot of time, such as e-mail. I don't know if I am the best person to predict the next generation but there are obviously lots of ways to improve communications.We put up a lot of things on labs [Google Labs] because it's really hard to predict. If I had proposed Wikipedia many years ago, I don't think any of us, including myself, would have said it would work.
On Google focusing on user-generated and professional content like Yahoo, IAC and AOL: We fundamentally believe in giving people access to content, not producing it. If you search for stock symbol on Google, the first link could be from Yahoo Finance. We want to send people to best sites. We are really not about trying to create all of our own content to keep them on Google; we are about sending them off.
On video search: People underestimate the quality of video information. If you take a Discovery Channel special on whatever scientific question or a Nova show, they have extraordinarily high quality content. The key is not the format [text, audio, video, etc.]. It's the effort and preparation. It just so happens some of the best content is in video form. Making it searchable will unlock it when you want to know about subject 'X'. With good search over video people can be much better educated.
On Yahoo CEO Terry Semel's remarks that Google is now a portal and would be ranked number 4: Based on my reading [on Semel's remarks] that also makes us the underdog. [Then Brin started going sideways in his remarks, comparing Yahoo and Google cafeterias.]
In response to MSN chief Yusef Mehdi calling Microsoft the underdog: If we are number 4 and Microsoft is the underdog--skip that [laugh]. I'd be excited to be viewed as a leader in technology. We are not number one in doing big business deals or some huge platform or many other things Microsoft enjoys as an advantage. But from a technology viewpoint, we are a leader.
On Google's valuation and search market share: I am not a valuation expert. There are a lot of complicated ways to value a company...I think in terms of search market share we are delighted that so many people use our product, primarily by word of mouth. We have a little promotion and partnerships, but people primarily come and stay because of the search experience.
On maintaining Google "clean" interface: I certainly hope we can continue to be clean, but obviously there are other kinds of products to explore that have arisen out of need. Gmail arose out of our frustration of not having a good solution to manage our own e-mail. There are areas that have been overlooked by the industry, as much as search quality and relevance were in the late 90's by the major portals at the time. We have a lot of technologies, infrastructure and distribution that really allows us to help in some of those areas, and we'd be foolish not to make an impact when we can.
On choosing what to develop: I don't know what is going to happen with the feed reader [Google Reader release today], but historically with Gmail it spurred a lot of M&A and investment activity in that area. We really care about enabling other businesses. Little web sites need to make money and we initially we spent a lot time trying to figure out the right platform [Google AdSense]....One of our big motivations was to create and sustain online businesses, and I think we have really helped do that.
On a Google Office: I don't really think that the thing is to take a previous generation of technology and port them directly, and say can 'we do the minicomuter on the Web on AJAX,' makes sense. I'm not saying that's what [Microsoft] Office is, I'm just saying that I think the Web and Web 2.0, if that's what you want to call it, gives you the opportunity to do new and better things than the Office package and more. We don't have any plans [to do an office suite].