Google CEO on innovation: 'We're at one per cent of what's possible'

Google I/O conference kicks off with Maps, Search and a new music service

SAN FRANCISCO: Google CEO Larry Page took the stage today to wrap up a nearly four-hour long keynote that kicked off the Google I/O developers conference here.

Page, who is dealing with a scratchy voice caused by vocal cord paralysis, didn't pitch products, but was more philosophical, talking about innovation, negativity and the future of technology.

"Today, we're still just scratching the surface," said Page. "Google is working on so many innovations. I got goose bumps about it."

Google I/O, the company's major developer conference, kicked off with the keynote today. The company used the time to unveil 41 updates and additions to its social network, Google+, and to show off a new look and feel for Google Maps, a new subscription music service and new APIs.

What was noticeable was the lack of Android news, as well as any new details about Google Glass, the company's upcoming, futuristic-looking computerized eye glasses. Industry analysts had expected Google to show off new Glass apps, since developers have had prototypes to work on for more than a month.

Page standing alone on stage with no demos and no fancy projections on the giant screens behind him, talked to the audience.

"It's really important to help developers and Google build great experiences across these devices and platforms," he said. "I'm tremendously excited about all the innovation you're bringing to life."

However, Page also said that he's saddened by the negativity in the industry which he said has slowed the progress of innovation.

"We should be building great things that don't exist," he said. "Now matter how fast the change in the industry, we're still moving slow compared to the opportunities we have. And part of that is the negativity that I read about Google and others. Being negative is not how we make progress. Most important things are not zero sum. There's a lot of opportunity out there. We can use technology to make things that make people's lives better."

Page also said that Google does great things when it works on crazy ideas.

"Almost every time we've done something crazy, we've made progress," he said. "Not every time but a lot of the time. Now we've become kind of emboldened. I say we're at one per cent of what's possible."

And part of that crazy thinking is building Glass.

"Glass is a new category and quite different from existing computing devices," Page said, answering a question about Glass from the audience. "Our main goal is to get happy users using Glass. We want to make sure we're building experiences that make people happy. And then we can get going and work on it for the next 10 years."

Page said what excites him most, personally, about Glass is using it to take pictures of his kids.

"I have young kids. For me that's enough reason for me to have Glass," he said. "For me, that's enough."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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