For Google CEO Larry Page,happiness is a warm computer.
Technology should do the hard work so people can get on doing the things that make them happiest in life, Page told a crowd of 6,000 software developers and entrepreneurs who flocked to San Francisco on Wednesday for the opening day of Googles annual showcase for its latest breakthroughs.
In the latest display of its technological prowess and sweeping ambition,Google is rolling out another wave of products and services that will test how much more people want computers to control their lives and enhance their perceptions of reality.
This years event mostly consisted of upgrades to existing Google services that have already become daily habits for millions of people one of Pages main goals. The new features assume most people want to more help managing their lives from Googles brainy engineers and the sprawling data centers that house its millions of computers around the world.
Investors are increasingly becoming convinced that Googles tentacles are going to grasp more moneymaking opportunities as its dominant search engine and ancillary services become more pervasive on the mobile devices.
Google already has an enviable perch on the smartphones and tablets that have become peoples constant companions. Its Android software has been activated on 900 million devices worldwide. In the first quarter of this year,Android devices held a 74% share of the global smartphone market followed by the Apples iPhone at 18%,according to the research firm IDC. Android also led the tablet market with a 56.5% share versus 40% for Apples iPad during the first quarter,according to another research firm,Gartner.
Googles products and services have also made major inroads among users of the iPhone and iPad,despite Apples recent efforts to cast aside some of Googles products.
In a show of Wall Streets faith,Googles stock surged past $900 for the first time Wednesday to propel the companys market value beyond $300 billion for the first time. Google shares gained $28.79,or more than 3%,to close at $915.89. The latest milestone came less than three months after Google shares surpassed $800 for the first time. The stock has increased 55% since Page,Googles co-founder,succeeded his mentor,Eric Schmidt,as CEO two years ago.
In contrast,investors have become exasperated with rival Apples lack of breakthrough products since its visionary CEO Steve Jobs died in October 2011. Apples stock has plunged by nearly 40% since last September,leaving the shares at $428.85. Still,Apples market value remains nearly $100 billion higher than Googles.
Page,40,seemed to share some of that frustration on Wednesday in a rare 45-minute appearance that capped a three-and-half hour presentation of Googles latest products. His appearance came the day after he disclosed that both his vocal cords have been hobbled to the point that it makes it difficult to speak for extended periods and sometimes breathe when exercising.
Without mentioning Apple by name,Page said more companies need to develop products outside their comfort zone. Its something that Page says he has also insisted on Google doing since he started the company with Sergey Brin in 1998. Some of the gambles,like expansions into digital mapping and email,have paid off. Others,such as creating an alternative to Wikipedia and a social networking service called Buzz,have been flops. Every time we have tried to something crazy,we have usually made progress, Page said. So we have been emboldened.
The latest examples of audacious Google experiments that appear likely to become viable products include autonomously driven cars and Google Glass,an internet-connected device with a built-in camera and small display screen that can be worn around a persons face like a pair of spectacles. Several employees and developers who bought a test version of Google Glass were wearing the device as they walked around the conference on Wednesday.
Google Glass stole last years meet when a group of skydivers wearing the device were shown jumping from dirigible above the building where the meeting was held. Their descent was shown live to the audience using the Google Glass camera. By comparison,this years meet was more sedate,though the features that were announced will have a more immediate impact.
A virtual assistant called Google Now will now be able to deliver reminders to pick up the milk when a person is in a grocery friend or call certain friends when visiting certain cities. Google Now also has been programmed to understand more spoken questions so it can be even more helpful. The technology is being expanded to work on Chrome Web browsers to it can be accessed on personal computers,extending its reach beyond smartphones and tablets. With the wider availability,the Google Now technology is likely to be used more frequently,enabling Googles engineers to gain an even better understanding of human behavior. In turn,they can deploy artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to do a better job of anticipating users needs.
Google Plus,the companys social networking answer to Facebook,is getting a facelift. The new look will include several automated features that promise to figure out appropriate hash tags for each post on the service and identify the best photos uploaded by users.