Google could announce this week that it will move SSL encryption implemented in Gmail to other services such as search. During the company’s annual shareholders meeting a question on this from John Simpson, an investor who works for Consumer Watchdog, prompted a curt “Do you get the drift of the answer?” from Google chief executive officer Eric Schmidt after Google vice president of search Marissa Mayer replied “stay tuned.” Encryption has moved to the forefront after Google’s admission last week it had collected small pieces of private information people sent through unencrypted wireless networks.
Expect some big news from Google this week, as the Google I/O conference kicks off in San Francisco. The meeting, full of teasers, shed light on Google’s strategy to grow profits during the past year as the economy tanked. Schmidt told stockholders that advertisers were advised to increase orders, rather than decrease them as the need for good search tools continue to grow.
Schmidt estimates between 1.8 billion and 2 billion people rely on the Internet, up from 300 million 10 years ago. That’s only a third of the world, he says, but more will come online via mobile devices as it gets easier to connect. There are 800 exabytes of information in the world people can access on the Internet, he says, explaining that an exabyte is about 1 billion gigabytes. “Between the dawn of civilization and 2003, there were exactly five exabytes created,” he says. “We now create that every two days.”
During the stockholders meeting, Google cofounder Larry Page told investors that translation tools will “significantly” change the world, pointing to features now available in Google Gmail. Google translates 160 million pages per day in 70 different languages. Schmidt explained how Google continues to work on technology that allows translations in mid sentence, where either one person speaks or texts a message in one language and the person on the other end hears or reads it in another. These are difficult problems to solve, he says, but Google continues to work on them.
That translation tool has been built into Chrome, Google’s Web browser, which, by default, translates into the language of choice. Chrome also gave Google an opportunity to build “a third platform of choice,” aside from PC and Mac, Schmidt says. “Why am I so proud,” he says. “There hasn’t been one in 20 to 25 years.” The new hardware architecture has been developed with enough speed and performance for computations to support secure cloud computing.
Another topic brought to light during the shareholders meeting, the $700 million kill fee Google will have to pay if federal regulators reject its proposed $750 million acquisition of the mobile advertising network AdMob. Schmidt told the group “We don’t expect to pay any kill fee because we expect these things to get approved.”
During Google’s shareholder’s meeting, Schmidt also explained Google’s decision to move search services to Hong Kong where a “firewall censorship barrier between Hong Kong and mainland China” exists. That barrier provides the censorship so Google doesn’t have to censor its own searches under Chinese law.
Schmidt called the China situation “stable” and says Google has maintained business relationships with the Chinese governments and engineering centers in China. But if the Chinese government becomes “further upset” with us they have the ability to change the outcome.