Sunday, June 16, 2024

Google vs. ‘Page’s Law’

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SAN FRANCISCO — Google co-founder Sergey Brin made some pointed remarks about the future of media and Google’s future direction during a press Q&A here during the Google I/O developer’s conference today. He said Google’s other co-founder, Larry Page, had come up with a kind of inverse to Moore’s Law that the number of transistors on a chip doubles about every 18 months.

“Larry came up with the inverse, that every 18 months, software becomes twice as slow. Fortunately, the hardware folks offset that,” Brin joked. “We would like to break Page’s Law and have our software become increasingly fast on the same hardware.”

Brin pointed to advances in programming tools, particularly performance improvements in JavaScript, that are helping to make that happen. “When we launched Gmail five years ago there were many internal arguments if it was even possible to do such a thing with JavaScript,” he said.

Speaking of Web apps in general, Brin said “We still have a long way to go, particularly in respect to performance,” he said, noting Google is working hard to continually boost the performance in its Chrome browser and its native search application.

Google versus publishers

Brin was asked to respond to criticism that Google derives too much revenue, via ads, from content it doesn’t own, but of course accumulates as part of search results with links back to the original publisher.

“At a high level, we certainly value all content providers from large newspapers to individual bloggers. We want them to thrive or there’ll be nothing to search,” he said. Brin also noted Google paid out some $6 billion to other Web sites as part of its AdSense ad revenue sharing program.

“It’s a period of evolution for media. I’m pretty confident business models will evolve and I hope they continue to have a very healthy business.” He also said Google continues to partner with newspapers to try and generate different forms of revenue.

“We’ve been happy with advertising, but I have nothing against subscriptions of fees,” said Brin. A number of publishers, including News Corp., have recently suggested they plan to expand the amount of content they charge for.

Brin said it may take time to figure out the right model, just as Google itself experienced growing pains. He recalled the company’s first ad system back in 1998 connected ads with search pages, which where then “the least valuable junk. They were worth ten times less than other Web pages.”

After several false starts, Google improved the technology, developed AdWords to match advertising with keyword searches. “Newspapers and others with valuable content need to take time to figure it out and build up a system so you will have a strong, sustainable form of revenue,” he said.

Where is search heading?

While Google is by far the world’s most widely-used search engine, Brin said there’s a lot of work to do by his company and others. “I think you are starting to see more inherent smarts in the search engine in things like Google Squared” which the company previewed earlier this month at its Searchology event.

He also noted that there’s an imperative to keep innovating people’s expectations have increased and become more complex. “You’ll be seeing applications that were considered science fiction a decade ago.”

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