Google CEO Larry Page made a surprise appearance on the keynote stage Wednesday at the Google I/O conference. Page has a rare vocal cord nerve condition and has not made many public appearances because of it.
Two hours and 45 minutes into a 3-hour keynote, Page took the stage giving what almost could be described as an elevator pitch or Google infomercial followed by over a half hour of live question and answer with the audience.
He started by telling a story of his father, who was fascinated by technology and instilled that fascination in him. “Everyone today is excited about technology,” Page mused. “We don’t have to worry about that.”
Page immediately started discussing how phones connect anyone in the world almost everywhere in the world. But we have a lot more devices than just our phones and, said Page, “we use them interchangeably. That’s why we put so much focus on our platforms.”
Speaking of Google Now and how it gives you information without needing to ask or search for it, Page said.
“Technology should do the hard work, so people can get on with doing the things that make them happiest in life,” he said.
“We’re just getting started,” Page continued. “We, as Google and as an industry, all of you, are really at only 1 percent of what we’re capable of. The opportunities we have are tremendous. I’m amazed everyday I come to work. The list of things that need to be done is larger. We’re still moving slow relative to the opportunities that we have.”
Page transitioned into the industry, specifically the negativity surrounding it. “Every story I read about Google is us versus some other company or some stupid thing, and I just don’t find that very interesting,” he said. “Being negative isn’t how we make progress.”
After 10 minutes, he opened the floor to questions as a second microphone was passed around. In the Q&A that followed, the Google CEO took a shot at Microsoft for adding Google Talk to Outlook when Outlook doesn’t directly interface with Gmail. Page suggests the industry is focused on negative, zero-sum games.
“Most important things are not zero sum,” Page said. “There is a lot of opportunity out there.”
By this, he simply meant if one product includes another product’s functionality, the reciprocal should also be in effect. Interestingly, as The Verge reported, Google slapped Microsoft with a cease and desist letter suggesting the Windows Phone YouTube App – created by Microsoft – violates the YouTube API use by not including ads. So much for interoperability.
Ironically, Page vilified Oracle – who has numerous victories over Android in court – just a few moments later, jabbing “Money is more important to them than cooperation.”
One of the last questions, a boy from New Jersey asked Page what he would to to get people to focus on the positive rather than the negative.
“Maybe we should set aside a small part of the world like Burning Man,” Page replied after the cheers from the crowd settled. “An environment where people can try out different things, but not everyone needs to go. I think as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out some new things and figure out what is the effect on society, what’s the effect on people, without having to deploy it into the normal world.”