Marissa Mayer On Recent Google Innovations and Newspapers

In the most-awaited session of the afternoon of Day 1 at LeWeb, Michael Arrington (from TechCrunch) sat down with Marissa Mayer, Vice President, Search Products and User Experience at Google to discuss a series of hot topics like recent Google innovations, mobile and the newspaper industry.

Marissa Mayer Google Michael Arrington Techcrunch LeWeb Paris December 2009 - 1

On recent innovations:

  • Mayer says Google is focused on future of search and they expect different modality of search, not just through keywords. That’s why they launched Google Goggles this week which is basically image recognition (you take a picture and Google tells you what it is). See this example. They also expanded voice search to Japanese and added the “What’s nearby” mobile functionality. Mayer thinks that people will eventually talk to their phone or take a picture to make a search. They also added real-time results (from Twitter, blogs, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) to regular search results, which drastically increases the relevancy of Google search results.
  • On Google Chrome, she mentioned the release of Chrome Extensions which allows anyone to add functionalities via plugins in the Chrome browser (like Firefox). She said there are “tens of millions of Chrome users”.
  • On Google Wave, Arrington stated “there’s something there” but wondered if we needed more “training”. I think most people are unsure of the value of Wave today and that’s why the Techcrunch founder asked the question.

On mobile searches:

  • Mayer says they’ve grown tremendously on smart phones. Asked by Arrington if their total share of mobile searches over total searches was in the 1 to 5% range, she answered “slightly higher than that”.

Marissa Mayer Google Michael Arrington Techcrunch LeWeb Paris December 2009 - 2

On newspapers:

  • Arrington started by saying we all understand the dire situation of print media and mentioned Eric Schmidt recent vision piece in the Wall Street Journal. He then asked Mayer: “What’s your vision?”. The VP from Google answered with a question: “how do you get users more engaged with news online?” She continued by stating that if we could build a news site from scratch today, it would probably look very different than what we have today. She then mentioned The Living Stories experiment they’re doing with the New York Times and the Washington Post. “What if the story was alive? Not just the print version posted online.” She added that the Web “puts pressure on the atomic unit of consumption. The article is the atomic unit.” She then suggested we could aggregate all news story on the same topic on one page, like Wikipedia, to help with discovery in Google.
  • She closed that topic by suggesting “personalized stream of news”, probably on your mobile phone, would be interesting. The stream would be filtered according to your social circle, location, the news brands you like, the writers you like, and the important news you should know about (she called them “veggies”).
  • Asked if newspapers will move fast enough, she thought so and mentioned the New York Times and Washington Post are very progressive partners and very interested on how they can reinvent themselves.
  • On Murdoch, Mayer mentioned the partnership with MySpace. Asked if she thought News Corp would pull their content from Google, she answered “I hope not” as it would impact comprehensiveness of their results set. She added “we have to respect the content owners. We would respect his will.”
  • Finally, Arrington asked if Google would consider paying for content, Marissa Mayer proposed that they already have programs for content monetization through Google Adsense and their display ads network.

See more on Techcrunch.

Mobile Devices Are Social Networks

Without a compelling existing brand or a really innovative product with protectable intellectual property (some of the games fall into this category), the only chance these apps have for long term success is to start thinking about ways to have users interact with each other in order to build network value. I’ve long argued that social networking on the iPhone is a huge opportunity, and the fact that the big guys are ignoring it for now leaves the door open for a newcomer to get long term market share.

(From Most iPhone Apps Are Failing To Leverage The Network Effect on Techcrunch)

What it means: great insight from Mike Arrington today. I’ve also been talking about the fact that your mobile device is a social object. It holds your contact list, it knows where you are and it’s a multi-channel communication device. We’re not far away from a specific mobile device-centered social network. Is there a “Facebook” in Apple’s future? I wonder if it would be possible to integrate DiSo (distributed social networking) with open source mobile operating systems like OpenMoko, Android or Symbian?

Can Social Media Save Business 2.0 Magazine?

What started yesterday as one of my Facebook status updates is slowly becoming a grass-root effort to save Business 2.0 magazine. The Facebook group created yesterday morning for that occasion now has 139 members (and growing every minute). The list of people supporting the magazine is starting to read like a who’s who of tech entrepreneurs, bloggers and journalists and includes amongst others Reid Hoffman, Michael Arrington, Om Malik, Craig Newmark, and Josh Quittner.

In addition to the Facebook group, I’ve posted the news on Digg (very limited results) and I’ve also asked a question on LinkedIn (some interesting comments there). We’re also now crossing over into blogging media with a Valleywag article covering our efforts to save the magazine. Hopefully, we can get more blogging media coverage today and maybe (cross your fingers) get offline media coverage as well!

With that many “sneezers” on board, I have very high hopes we can tell Time Inc. that the magazine is a must-read amongst the digerati and save it.

BTW, if you like Business 2.0 magazine, make sure you add your name to the Facebook group! If you want to add me to your Facebook network, don’t hesitate to invite me also.

End of day update: the group is up to 329 members and Advertising Age has covered the news! Keep going!