Google and Tonic: Google Press Day 2006

Mountain View, Calif. -  At Google Press Day on April 10, Google announced several new Internet search features including Google Health  as it tries to fend off rival Microsoft, called its chief competitor a "convicted monopolist", expressed an interest in TV ads and much more. What follows is an attempt

Mountain View, Calif. - At Google Press Day on April 10, Google announced several new Internet search features including Google Health as it tries to fend off rival Microsoft, called its chief competitor a "convicted monopolist", expressed an interest in TV ads and much more.

What follows is an attempt to capture some of the major points or announcements as they are raised during the day.

Several New Search Features

As expected, Google announced several new features, most of them centered on new ways of using its core search features.

By piling on more search features, Google thinks it's playing to its strength over Microsoft and Yahoo. As Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said, internet search is what will keep Google in front for now and the immediate future.

The first was Google Trends, which is a way of looking at the traffic Google gets, so you can type in a search term, and see how many others are looking for the same word.

There's also a new version of Google Desktop that ties in many more Google features, and is one of the lances Google is expected to tilt toward Microsoft's dominance of the desktop software.

The new Google Desktop, version four, can now incorporate existing Google features like Google Video or Google's relatively new Google Calendar, for instance.

Google Health, a place to find health information, was also launched. Health is one of several single-topic search engines built out of a new feature called Google Co-Op, a kind of free market where Web addresses can be swapped or posted.

Google Notebook, another new feature, is a quasi-Post-it note for your desktop screen. Starting next week, search results will have the option of "note this," which then transfers that link to a small notepad on the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

Google Channels TV Ads

Google's got its sights set on adding television to the mediums, like print or radio or the Internet, that Google advertisers can reach.

TV ads by Google will ultimately build off Google's purchase of dMarc Broadcasting, a company that provides digital radio advertisements.

Because Google radio ads are going well, there's a tendency to look at TV ads more seriously. Aside from the Internet, Google has tried to sell ad space in newspapers and magazines. Google rivals Microsoft and Yahoo don't have this kind of reach yet.

"Clearly, there's an opportunity," said Jonathan Rosenberg, a Google senior vice president. "TV will become more of a search-based paradigm, so there's an opportunity to marry search with TV."

Microsoft, the Convicted Monopolist

The 800 pound gorilla at the event is Microsoft, Google's chief rival in the battle for search and increasingly the computer desktop.

Lately, Google's been asking authorities in the U.S. and Europe whether Microsoft should be able to embed its own search engine into a new version of its Internet Explorer browser.

It's a rather controversial move by Google that created lots of debate about whether Google's actually doing the same thing as Microsoft. In Google's eyes, it's Microsoft being the same old Microsoft, co-founder Larry Page said April 10.

When asked why Google made the move, Page said "Microsoft is a convicted monopolist, and has a history of not playing fair. Our focus early on is to make sure we at least are looking at areas where power can be abused."

Who Wins The Google Microsoft War? Everybody!

Apparently, there'll be no loser in the head-to-head, battle for the soul of the Internet that Google and chief rival Microsoft are now engaged in, say Google executives.

"For those that are obsessing about one winner, one loser, well, there's not going to be a single winner," said Chief Executive Eric Schmidt.

He believes the Internet presents so much of an opportunity that both behemoths, and other companies, can find more than enough to be happy about.

"There's many, many more spaces we can go in," adds co-founder Larry Page. "Contemplate this: there's about two percent of what will exist in 10 years is now here."

It seems a concilliatory response to a question about how outsiders should view the Microsoft/Google smackdown. Or, it could be a tactful answer in a high-pressure, high-gloss environment.

Eric Schmidt's First Rule of the Internet

CEO Eric Schmidt has, with all due modesty, proposed the first rule of the Internet: People have a lot to say.

You see, the Internet's allowed more people to publish their own content, as evidenced by the 30 million or so blogs now floating around. And once they start doing it, people can't seem to stop.

That's forced a profound change at Google, he said. Rather than just present information, like scads of pages of search results, Google must present it in some way as to make it much more usable.

"Great search has changed the paradigm," he said.

Not So Quick to the Google Phone?

Google Chief Technologist Vint Cerf was asked, "Where's the Google phone?" which is a catch-all phrase for a cell phone like the one ESPN created, which is packed with ESPN content and services.

It also suggests a phone that contains embedded Google features. Both scenarios represent a much more intensive effort by Google to push its features onto the wireless Web.

Cerf kind of snorted, then said something that indicates that while a Google phone has not been ruled out, it's also not on the front burner. "Why would Google be interested in phones, other than they have Internet connections to use our applications?" he replied.

Schmidt, Google's CEO, seconded Cerf's thoughts. He said Google's of course interested in cell phones, namely because they already outnumber personal computers and the gap is widening.

But phones, to Schmidt, seem like just a vehicle with which to search the Internet or use any other of Google's features. In fact, the company's now testing a mobile advertising feature right now. But all that's a far cry from a Google phone, one that carries Google applications wall-to-wall or carries its brand name.

Schmidt said "No, we're busy," in response to a Google phone question later on in the day.

Google Finance: More Baubles to Come

Schmidt said there will be more features to come for Google Finance, the company's struggling financial information Web site.

That's to be expected. Hitwise, a business intelligence firm, has pegged Google Finance at 43rd in the ranking, and slipping. That's no Yahoo Finance killer, for sure, so new features are a way to boost traffic.

Why Does Gmail Crash?

Alan Eustace, a Google vice president, defended Google's newer, non-search products, which have in the past not performed as well as Google's flagship search product.

The complaints have come from Gmail users over recent months.

Eustace conceded that some Google products seem to operate better than others. That's not the plan, he assured the audience, but it's a fact of life.

"Search has five nines of reliability, so our customers have come to expect th