This post and comments thread covers the Google Press Day webcast from 9:30am - 1:00pm PT – I’ll edit along as things happen.
You can jump straight to the product announcements section detailing the new Google Trends, Google Co-op (including Google Health), Google Desktop 4, and the upcoming Google Notebook widget. Thanks everyone!
Elliot Schrage (Global Communications & Public Affairs)
9:40am: How Were Doing and Where Were Going
Eric Schmidt (CEO)
10:10am A Search Technology Overview
Alan Eustace (Engineering & Research)
10:3 am: Be Global, Act Local
Omid Kordestani (Global Sales & Business Development)
11:25am: Innovation: Many Shapes, Many Sizes
Jonathan Rosenberg (Product Management)
Marissa Mayer (Search Products & User Experience)
12:15pm: Executive Q&A
Elliot Schrage says “The Google Story is getting more complicated and complex everyday.” He’s also presenting a note from the Google lawyers (“These forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties.” Sure...). We can see a flashback to Elliot in front of the US congress saying “Better for Chinese users... and better for Google.”
Google CEO Eric Schmidt says “We’re moving to the next state of the internet where it’s all about people and expression” – search is still the focus, he adds.
The Google “aha” moment for many was when you use their search and say, “wow, that’s amazing.” Eric says these small personal “aha” moments created Google’s viralness, and they’re different for different persons.
Eric says the web grew 10,000 times larger in the last 10 years, by some estimates – and the web’s growing internationally, not just in the US. Google benefits from this by cashing in on ads, which in turn helps them build their technological infrastructure (with Google growing, so does their work-force: Google needs to solve such seemingly trivial problems as traffic jams). They’re continuing to buy small companies to fulfill their vision and compete with main competitors Yahoo and Microsoft.
Eric adds Google will always keep focus on having great search functionality with other services build around it. “We have more people working on search than ever before in this company.” And: “More search - more users - more advertisers - more innovators.” Eric details potential future search apps:
Alan explains what happens behind the scenes for a sample search such as Kevin Delaney wsj.
Ranking – the “best” result should be on top, or at least the first page of results. There are over 200 “signals" for ranking, with the web-wide backlinks structure being incredibly important here. 1,000s of machines process every single search query. 20-25% of their queries haven’t appeared before in a given query (that’s a lot, I think – when Alan is later questioned on the high number, and whether or not multiple queries of the same count as 1, he comments, “I think that’s correct, I don’t actually know the exact answer to that.”).
Spammers, naturally, complicate the ranking business by sneaking in backlinks into different places like guestbooks (Alan says guestbook-spamming doesn’t work anymore with Google – he might be referring to the “nofollow” initiative). Link exchanges, link farms, or paid links are another factor here; Google claims to have special techniques to deal with those. With a changing web and changing algorithms, Google says they’re using “extensive measurement and competitive analysis” to ensure they’re competitive.
Global Sales & Business Development Senior Vice President Omid Kordestani presents together with Nikesh Arora, Adam Freed, and Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, with a focus on globalization and localization. Google at the moment is available in 116 languages, and Google engineers want to make sure that the “final layer” is usable.
One of the presenters pulls a Freudian slip, saying “Yahoo Finance” and then correcting herself to “Google Finance” (finance.google.com arrived much later than finance.yahoo.com).
Product Manager Jonathan Rosenberg urges people to “reread the founders’ letter” to understand the innovation process at Google. Google likes to have people close together in small teams to foster comradery and innovation. Jonathan cites the example of Google News, which was one of the most successful programs in hindsight, saying “Manual solutions don’t scale.”
Marissa lists what she says are four core components of the search experience: comprehensiveness, relevance, speed and user experience. Marissa gives a broad overview of past releases, including the Google Personalized Homepage, Google Desktop, the different Google Toolbar versions, and the Google Maps API.
Finally, there’s the first product launch: Google Trends, allowing you to search Google traffic (instead of using the word “Beta" for Google Trends, Google shows a special Labs logo). Note there has to be a threshold of minimum searches for a trend graph to show up. The internal name of this product seems to have been iZeitgeist, as Tony Ruscoe found out.
Another new product today is Google Desktop in version 4 with “Google Gadgets.” The official Google Desktop blog calls these “visually appealing mini-applications like clocks, weather globes, media players, etc., that support rich markup language (XML, Flash) and enable a wide array of visual effects and animation.”
According to a Google press release, GD4 also enables sharing of gadgets and settings between different computers, and backing it up online. Plus, you can now put modules from the Google Personalized Homepage onto the desktop.
Also, Google today introduces Google Co-op (the URL google.com/coop wasn’t available when Marissa mentioned it, but was added about an hour later). Marissa says that in Co-op, users and companies like OpenTable and Digg work together to help Google deliver a better search experience. Google Health seems to be part of this Co-op program. From a Google press release:
Google Co-op beta is a community where users can contribute their knowledge and expertise to improve Google search for everyone. Organizations, businesses, or individuals can label web pages relevant to their areas of expertise or create specialized links to which users can subscribe.
Once a user has subscribed to a provider’s content, all of that provider’s labels and subscribed links are added to the user’s search results for relevant queries. These contributions serve as meta information that helps Google’s search algorithms connect users to the most relevant information for their specific query. (...)
For example, a doctor can label web pages related to arthritis, and users who subscribe to that doctor’s information will receive options at the top of the results for more specific information such as “treatment,” “symptoms,” or “for health professionals” when they enter a relevant query.
As a first step, Google has worked with partners to annotate web pages related to health and city guides and to offer dozens of subscribed links to specialized content such as restaurant and movie information. Going forward, the broader online community will begin building out new topic areas and subscribed links to help improve the way people find and discover information online.
The fourth announcement is Google Notebook, which Marissa says will be available from the Google Labs next week (the URL google.com/notebook currently redirects to google.com/gn, which returns a file-not-found message). Notebook is a little notes window that follows you from the Google search results to other sites, allowing you to collect bits and pieces of information. You can also make public parts of Google Notebook to share it with others.
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