Google bosses Larry Page, Eric Schmidt (CEO) and Sergey Brin
At a press conference in New York on Wednesday, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founder Sergey Brin fielded a lot of questions from the media about everything from Bing and Chrome OS to the recent Gmail outages and never being as evil as Microsoft.
Peter Kafka of AllThingsD was at hand to transcribe most of the event. Here are some of the most interesting aspects of the talk:
On Microsoft Bing, its innovations and whether it’s really different:
Brin: Competition is healthy. But many of the tweaks in Bing we’d already seen from Microsoft Live earlier in the year.
Schmidt: I agree!
On the recent Gmail outages:
Brin: We are focusing not only on outages, which we don’t like, but recovery time. The second outage could have been resolved in five or ten minutes, but we made errors in handling it, and it extended over an hour. But if you look at a typical enterprise today, those outages tend to add up to more than even these kinds of outages that we had. Also, we’re working on the number of people affected by outages, trying to group people into pods so that if one goes down, it doesn’t affect others.
On Google Books and persisting with it despite its controversies:
Schmidt: It’s not a particularly good business for us. We’re going it because we think it’s the right thing to do.
On the Google Chrome browser:
Schmidt: It’s being adopted a lot more than it seems. I see a lot of Macs in this room, and a lot of very sophisticated people are using Macs now and we need to get a version of Chrome out for that, which we’ll have in a couple of months. Key to browser strength is speed.
On hardware and phone OSes:
Brin: Hardware is getting amazing with regard to cost. Used to be that displays were expensive, but now they’re cheap, and so are chips. Now, the main cost is broadband connection, or cellular, or however you get to the Internet. That’s why wide broadband availability is important to us. Think about how much you spend on access costs compared to the amount you spend on your handset. The phone cost is negligible. I think it’s better if hardware isn’t locked down to specific platforms.
On the clash or overlap between Android and Chrome OS
Schmidt: Currently, we define Android as being for mobile, delivered via a telecom store and heavily integrated with the telco’s offerings. Chrome is designed for a 10, 12-inch form factor, like that of netbooks. They both use Linux, but they’re designed for different uses. May be some overlap there…
On Google News and getting into journalism/media:
Schmidt: We have to be very very careful not to favor one media organization over another, with regard to speed or latency. We are staying out of the media business. You guys are very good at it, and we’re not.
On reasons they will never be like Microsoft with regard to anti-trust:
Schmidt: Culture, for one. Another reason is that majority of users are one click away from moving away from us. Third: If we went into an “evil room” and had an “evil light” shined on us, and we then behaved in an “evil way”, we would be destroyed. There is a fundamental trust between Google and its users.