Google cofounder Sergey Brin turned up at a session for the press at the Google I/O event today and took questions on Google’s relations with newspapers, cited hopes of breaking “Page’s Law” of software sluggishness and even one about what he thought about the expected name of Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing. Below, a summary of his remarks, along with some video.
(I know the video is poor quality in the first and last clips below. Aside from being new to doing video, I was also using a new camera and had some focusing problems. All those buttons! But you should be able to hear the audio OK).
On newspapers, the economic woes they face, and Google’s relationship in the ecosystem:
Google wants good content to do well, otherwise it would have “nothing to search” he said.
He noted that over the past year, Google’s paid over $6 billion to all types of content sites through AdSense.
He said that through new programs from Google, “We’re creating more and more value, I hope.”
He acknowledged that some segments are facing hardship in the rough economic times but, “I’m pretty optimistic that the business models will evolve, and we’ll hopefully get even higher quality information as a result …. but I don’t think I know the magic cure.”
He noted that Google participates in experiments with newspapers around helping them increase revenues.
“We’ve been very successful with advertising,” he said, adding he has nothing against subscriptions or fee-based models.
He then suggested that content owners who feel existing revenue models aren’t working well need to keep pushing the envelope, as he says Google did.
“If you give it time to evolve and give people a chance to experiment, much as it took us in search a long time to find the magic answer …. several generations later, we have what you think of now as AdWords, which works very well.”
He explained that search ads were originally considered junk content not worth much, where affiliate fees barely paid enough for pizza, but Google eschewed taking banner ads and kept at building its own search ad system.
“It required a lot of evolution and a lot of work, but it happened. And I’m optimistic, because I think we at the time knew that we were delivering a lot of value …. so we were confident that at some point we could figure out how to make enough value out that to have a sustainable business. And I think these newspapers and other forms of media that your talking about also deliver very valueable content …. and even in this time of transition, if you take the time to figure it out and experiment …. you will also have a strongly sustainable form of revenue,” he said.
Some discussion of this is also emerging on Techmeme.
On the browser and web as platform (which was part of the panel that was on-going for the press, when Brin arrived near the end):
He then seemed to create a new law of computing on the fly, calling it “Page’s Law” and quoting something that Google’s other cofounder Larry Page says: “Every 18 months software becomes twice as slow as it was prior.”
He then said that processor gains have offset that “but we would like to actually break Page’s Law, no offense to Larry, and we would actually like our software to be increasingly fast over time, even using the same hardware.”
Asked about where search is going:
He thinks search is getting smarter and will increasing combine information from many pages about a topic, rather than relying on what contained within particular pages on their own (Google Squared was one example of this, he noted — though not the only one).
He also said expectations of search engines have increased with more esoteric and complex questions being asked.. “That’s why we’re seeing more success from these smart techniques,” adding other examples such as searching beyond exact terms entered.
“I think you’ll see that kind of technology really accelerate, and I hope you’ll find more surprises from Google when you do searches in the next few weeks,” he said.
Finally, when asked what he thought of either Kumo or Bing as the name for Microsoft’s new search engine:
“I don’t think I have great ideas for the name whatever Microsoft will announce. If I knew more about them, I’d have a suggestion. But we’ve been pretty happy with Google.”
Note that in the video, my finger slipped, so I missed the key “Google” punchline. Darn it. But over at TechCrunch, MG Siegler caught it.