Comments on Larry Page’s Presentation for Google’s Q3 2013 Earnings Report

As CEO of Google, Larry Page’s presentation at the start of Google’s Q3 2013 webcast should be closely noted by anyone looking for indicators about this business.

What struck me was the absence of any substantive mention in Larry Page’s presentation of Google’s most important revenue segment: online advertising. As I write this post, on October 21, 2013, some 4 days after the public release of this presentation, Google’s stock has become substantially more expensive. If Larry Page’s presentation did not include any mention of online advertising, beyond a comment at the end about the Adwords team effort, what did he talk about?

Larry Page’s presentation touched on some broad computing themes. The ones of most interest to me included:

  1. “A beautiful, simple, intuitive experience, regardless of your device”
  2. “Research has shown people tend to overestimate the impact of technology, short term, but underestimate the scale of change, longer term”
  3. We are now witnessing a “multi screen world”, where people, ” . . . increasingly have more than one device, and screens are proliferating in the home, as well as wearable screens like watches and Google Glass
  4. and this curious comment “When Android was still a skunkworks project, I used to feel kind of guilty visiting the team. We are a search company and building a new operating system wasn’t an obvious move to most people.”

The first point, a consistent user experience, “regardless of your device”, positions Google at the core of cloud computing and, at the same time, the market for small, smart mobile devices.

The second point, about short term vs long term perceptions on the impact of computing technology devices on society, provides a concise, and credible picture of the effect of a relentless effort by a variety of ISVs to deliver computing technology to businesses, and even individuals, since the early 1980s.

The third point speaks to an ostensibly new beachhead for ISVs: how to equip clothing, homes, etc, with computing capabilities. Really, this is not new. There have been a long list of attempts to accomplish the objectives Larry Page touches on in his short presentation by a lot of other ISVs, who came at the objective with process control and industrial automation solutions. Sure, watches and glasses are certainly new, but a “smart home” is not.

The final point provides us with useful insight about Google’s commitment to long term strategies. But since when do CEOs “feel guilty” about activities they may undertake at the periphery, far away from core business? Any thoughts on this one?

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