Google CEO: our work on Maps is ‘clearly more appreciated now’

Larry Page illustration (Nicola Felasquez Felaco)

When Larry Page became the CEO of Google, taking over from Eric Schmidt who is now the company’s chairman, he immediately began the Jobs-ification of the Internet giant. He axed a bunch of projects and put more wood behind fewer arrows in order to make the company more agile.

Page then set his sights on so-called moon shots, ambitious projects which could become the pillars of Google’s future growth. The decision gave birth to such projects as self-driving cars and Minority Report style Project Glass, for example. Page sat down with journalist Steven Levy who wrote a book on Google called “In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives” (a $15 download from the iBookstore), here’s what came out of him…

The interview has some interesting points and touches upon the subject of Google’s relationship with Apple in light of the iOS Maps fiasco.

Levy asked Page to comment on Apple pulling Google Maps from iOS6 and launching its own maps app that was marred with blatant inaccuracies and other issues. Specifically, Levy asked whether “the uproar over that decision vindicate your commitment to openness”, to which Page replied:

I don’t want to comment on partner relationships. But we’ve been working on Maps for a long time, and it’s nice to see people realize that we’ve put a lot of effort and investment into it. That’s clearly more appreciated now.

Page previously told Forbes he wishes Google and Apple would get along better Google.

The Internet giant he co-founded with Sergey Brin, he says, now has more than a billion users around the globe.

Commenting on Google’s top secret division called Google X, where “moon shots” are being developed, he said:

I think we need to be doing breakthrough, non-incremental things across our whole business. But right now Google X does things that can be done more independently.

Apple, as you know, carefully chooses which markets to enter and what products to focus on. That’s why you don’t see the company release a standalone television set or an iWatch just for the heck of it.

Google Project Glass (image 003)

Page finds that “unsatisfying”:

You know, we always have these debates: We have all this money, we have all these people, why aren’t we doing more stuff? You may say that Apple only does a very, very small number of things, and that’s working pretty well for them. But I find that unsatisfying.

I feel like there are all these opportunities in the world to use technology to make people’s lives better. At Google we’re attacking maybe 0.1 percent of that space. And all the tech companies combined are only at like 1 percent. That means there’s 99 percent virgin territory. 

He also doesn’t give a damn whether pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into projects that may never see light of the day.

Investors always worry, “Oh, you guys are going to spend too much money on these crazy things.” But those are now the things they’re most excited about—YouTube, Chrome, Android. If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things.

There has been some concern lately that Apple’s boss Tim Cook is a numbers driven guy who just wants to maximize profits and play it safe, but the New York Times journalist Nick Bilton recently revealed Cook’s lesser known design-savy side.

The interview is well worth your time so head over to Wired, read the whole thing  and join us back here for comments.

The top Larry Page illustration is credited to Nicola Felasquez Felaco.