In the closing keynote of the DLD Conference in Germany, soon to be former Google CEO Eric Schmidt took the stage, notably less than a week after passing on the reins of the company to Google co-founder Larry Page.
These are my live notes from the keynote:
Thank you for inviting me. I wanted to take a moment to praise mr. Burda for what you have accomplished in general, and with this event. I don’t know of a more better-done invitation-only event on the globe, so my congratulations to you.
I hope you do this for many years to come.
I have a lot of things I wanted to talk about. Important announcement for starters: we had a good year and very strong last quarter.
Our businesses are doing very well around the globe, and as a result I’m happy to announce we’ll be adding 1,000 new employees in Europe and make some significant investments.
Hundreds of these people will be located right here in our technology center in Munich.Update: A Google spokesperson clarified that these thousand new hires will be spread across Europe but that Google does not know what the country breakdown will be at this time.
So, I think my next decade at Google will be even more interesting than the first. Technology will finally start doing what we want, instead of us telling technology what we want it to do.
(He’s giving some examples of innovation in computing)
Three things I want to highlight. In the area of mobile, the smartphone is the device of our time. In all forms, so including tablets, there are examples abound. If you have a child, you’ll notice they’ll have two states: asleep or online.
In two years, smartphone sales will surpass PC sales, and the growth factor is increasing. Mobile is growing 8 times faster than the equivalent of the PC at its time. We see it in our data at Google, and I’m sure you can see it too.
The majority of people will soon go online from their phones more than from their computers. Landlines will disappear.
If you think you like your mobile phone, image if you’ve never had any computing device and a solid smartphone is your first. That’s transformative, a mobile revolution.
That’s where my ‘mobile first’ motto comes from.
Another trend I want to highlight: I would argue that devices that are not connected to the Internet are no longer interesting. Take every single device you know that has a CPU, and start thinking what will happen if it can connect to your WiFi network.
The networks, by the way, are seeing their own evolution – look at LTE networks that are forthcoming. It’s an order of magnitude of improvement, and it will be global, even amazingly in the United States.
Interestingly, Germany is the leader in LTE deployment in Europe. One of the interesting estimates is that there are about 35 billion devices connected to the Internet. Soon, there will be so many that we’ll stop counting. We need to give credit to the backend part of the equation.
Typical example: we have this voice translation feature, real-time translation from one language to another using nothing but voice. It’s magic, but at the same time it isn’t, so we look at ‘how did this happen’?
In the backend of that service, there are thousands of servers, which by the way you don’t have to pay for. We need to talk about that at some point.
But to me, this changes the game. How many wars have started because of miscommunication? Now we can try and solve that.
You can do other things with your phone, but we must always remember that there’s a lot of infrastructure and things going on in the background.
Now, of course, we can digitize everything. If you think about it, computers can give you digital senses you didn’t even know about. Think of it as augmented humanity, computers actually making us better humans.
Take location-aware apps. For example when you’re walking on a street and your phone can tell you that you need something from a store that you’re walking by. That’s the future.
What drives us at Google? We basically want to give you your time back, make things faster, speed up search and especially more personal. But always with your permission, I have to stress. You decide where the boundary lies.
So imagine your phone knowing you really well, your likes and dislikes – the perfect walking companion.
(Schmidt mentions the huge growth of Android and Chrome, which I’m leaving out)
The Internet is the greatest disruptor of all times. It has replaced the economics of scarcity with economics of abundance. You’re everywhere all the time. It’s going through industry after industry after industry. You can now literally reach a billion people online, every day – who would have imagined?
It’s also terrifying, because it has a lot to do with information, and information is still power. I don’t know how society will work out conflicts on a variety of levels, but I do know people care a lot about it.
I don’t think society has fundamentally figured out how to deal with this abundance of connectivity, but it’s something I think needs to be figured out soon.
We’re just at the beginning. Which I think is why you need to keep doing this conference, by the way.
I’m a computer scientist, so I think computer sciences can solve a lot of problems – I may be a little biased.
Imagine a near future where you never forget anything, because computers, with your permission, remember everything. I used to love getting lost, wandering about without knowing where the hell I was. It’s terrible, you can’t get lost anymore.
You know your position to the foot, and by the way, so do your friends. With your permission. Computers can predict whether you’re meeting your friends as you’re walking towards their house, for example. With your permission again.
I’ve been surprised how much we can know about the earth thanks to Google Earth. We have the ability to know everything that goes on, anywhere, at all times. We know climate change is real, and we need fact-based discussions about it ,and technology helps us do that.
At Google, we’ll help you sort things out.
You never travel alone anymore, your friends are always with you. You’re never bored again, you ‘waste your time’ going online instead of watching television.
You’re never out of ideas.
And what is it about this car thing? Don’t you think computers should be driving cars? We’re doing some things at Google to experiment with self-driving cars, which I think is very exciting.
So never lonely, never bored, all the world’s information at your fingertips.
And importantly, not just for the elite. Historically, information has always been reserved for the elite, for various reasons. Our vision is that information will be accessible to every single people on the planet, and we’ll help sort it.
And it will not just be in the Western world. There are about a billion smartphones in the world, and in emerging markets the growth rate is much faster.
Our next achievement is bringing people in emerging markets into ‘our’ world.
I would argue that the future of all of us should be organized around a future of trying to do good. It’s pretty clear to me this is going to happen. This is a future that gives people time back to do things that really matter.