Reporter's Roundtable Ep. 125: Google I/O dissected on Reporters' RoundtableThe search company launched new hardware products, a new push into media distribution, and staged a product pitch during a skydive. Are we watching a new Google emerge?
Hi everyone. Welcome back to reporters' roundtable I am -- needle in and San Francisco now we've had a bit of a hiatus for the show but we are back in business. And there's a great lineup of shows coming up starting with the day and then will have. Will be talking about drones in coming weeks and Adam mash networks -- all sorts of really cool stuff with some really cool people. Now we're recording -- show today on Friday June 20 ninth today is the last day of the Google developers conference Google Leo. And from my perspective as a jaded and grumpy and -- -- journalist I have to say it's been a really cool conference. Google launched its own seven inch Android tablet and launched a new living room entertainment system called the nexus Q. Launch Chrome for Apple IOS. A competitor to eve I called Google+ events and that's just what it's shipping it's also got -- we also saw. Wing suit divers jumped out of an -- -- over Moscone Center in San Francisco. At wearing Google glasses and glide to a landing on the roof I was really spectacular. Product demo. So there's a lot -- talk about that got two great guests to go over the important points of what came out of Google I O. First here in studio -- we always do our senior writer an alpha geeks Stephen shank land. In from his usual haunts in Paris -- the inner -- France bureau thanks coming in you bet. And joining us via Skype Esther Dyson. Answer is an investor in Internet startups in the US and abroad player in several emerging transportation and aviation stars including airship ventures not coincidentally the people who sent the sky -- up over Moscow in the and a former chair of the electronic frontier foundation and of icann Esther -- so much for dialing in. Glad to so dialing and sort of -- a bit retro I know I know I know I'm sorry I just comes out that way Skype being insists sound so. And tutorial and it's a little promotional. Anyway thank you -- and let's get started here let's talk about Google -- -- real briefly this was a really splashy show there were between 5506000. People -- mostly developers what did Google accomplish. But getting all these people riled up and -- -- everything at once -- your -- found -- I think if you wanna have a successful shows you -- news you need the information that developers are in a -- -- the intended -- needs and they have that in spades and they had an emotional connection which I think is you know kind of surprising for Google usually there. You know of their -- -- connect with the nerds but they had people on the -- of their seats that people standing and cheering as. At it was it was really remarkable they put on a good show and you know that that takes some doing so I was really impressed I think you know this is something that. For people was really memorable. And it's you know at from a branding perspective it was. You know solidly associated with -- project the last thing which is really -- fine but I you know it for that for their you know -- electronic computerized. Blouses I think it was a huge PR -- for the -- you were there in -- we cellular line when for the keynote with a slide away mobbed. What was your take away how do you feel about Google about the company's prospects after of the time spent at Google I O. -- is interesting and it reminded me of the next announcement. Steve's next announcement and in some some way this has been Apple's -- I think Google got. People's attention back with this. You know it's. The Apple products the iPad everything Steve himself. Arab. You -- he's everywhere unfortunately just not on -- that. It's been very much apples here and I think now Google's kind of really. Reading case was teeple it was. I was astonished her professional was beginning -- -- Google was deemed to geeks and their charming and now suddenly there. Professional. Even even they're geeks know how to present which is -- impressive and the stuff put this was awesome -- A lot of showmanship as well. But an interestingly a lot of hardware. This. Stephen Norton I was going to agree I think that. Clearly -- have been taking some PowerPoint lessons from Apple. There -- you know clean graphics much cleaner messaging. And up but at the same -- -- -- a bit crazy -- -- flavor so -- I don't think that they've been betrayed their. Dirty soul which is particularly important at Google I O but yeah they were very polished. You get it right polished but not stiff and I think that's that's what's exciting. -- put an analyst toughly and -- you mentioned hardware and there's -- a lot of people talking about how Google is looks like they're becoming a hardware company. How important is hardware Google glasses though that the nexus seven -- seven inch tablet. How important are these announcements for Google overall a stream OnStar with -- -- -- arm. -- -- clearly that the and I would say that question hasn't been answered. But if you. If you talk to pundits bet -- -- the Internet -- its. The real world and the Internet are getting. Together now it it used to be your computer -- information minute and then there was a real world which is analog and wasn't. Informed so to speak and now. Everything around you is going to be. Metered monitored. How you're -- -- -- -- the temperature your cell phone knows where it is or whose hearts into it. And your devices are going to because I'm Smart and that means you need better integration. With your devices. From from my point of view as a non driver heading and self driving car -- really really cool and that's. -- The stuff that isn't quite ready yet including. The glasses which unfortunately you can't Bryant school next year in the Google glasses stole the show yet and -- coming. I made a joke that -- the the standard use cases is going to be jumping from an airship -- You know the reality is. See if they help make that integration between the real world. And the information world to the extent that they can start recognizing objects their hardware and there. They're very nicely designed to -- -- of truces and so visual hardware -- but the the essence of it is going to be the software can. Can they recognize the faces of the people you're looking at can make. -- is typical last week Google also had this big thing about detecting caps aren't -- in your classes detect that this is your dog vs. Someone else is dark can -- -- recognize. Are you at home can they tell you we're -- looking out on the street. I just -- to -- Hulu -- is going that is not too adult. Costs -- up anywhere that went bites buffet aren't. So. You know in theory. You can outsource this stuff and you want standardized platforms but in practice as as Apple has shown. Would be iPad. The the close integration between softer and the device. Is really key -- ST what you think that with the school classes as acute as an X seven say to us that school is becoming a hardware company. -- -- and how you define a hardware company I don't think that it's a hardware company that. You know has this -- to manufacture things and sole physical object I think what Google wants to do is it wants to. Have. Up services. And hardware just happens to beat a medium through which you get to these services and so for Google I think hardware is a means to an end and I think -- as -- points out an increasingly. Important one as everything gets imbued with some kind of you know computing intelligence computing power. And a network connection so. I don't think that Google. Has this aspiration to be a hardware company that you know looks at its profit margins on you know what's the bill of materials how much to the capacity of touch screen -- how much does that. You know Wi-Fi module cost. I think it. Has the vision of you infusing computing technology into every corner of our lives and hardware is necessary step on that. -- before we move off of that and in onto the other. -- -- you know things are important for Google -- search and media. -- what do you. Esther and and Stephen think that that project glass. Project will look like to the rest of the world. It's a year from now or two years now are people gonna be walking around. San Francisco are they gonna be walking around the Montana wearing these things and talking to people while the camera is looking out from up from their head. I think it's similar to these self driving cars of Google where. When it first comes out it looks really alien and really different and people. Some people sort of -- some people have some kind of in a visceral rejection reaction other people are excited and -- think this looks really cool. I think there's going to be -- a you know there's a long period where people get in have to adjust to that site I think it's really a lot like the cell -- you don't you don't -- It would just listen what is the job done in in the sense of exactly you know people think oh what -- -- with a cellphone and they're thinking of the carrying around the -- and I remembered. During -- meeting in -- people plunk yourself on -- on the table but you know with it. Suddenly it's just this little discrete sing at the corner here I. And cool people -- them so it. There's there's how it looks other people and then there's how it feels T -- does it feel natural. It feels natural now to have a voice in your ear when you're working down the street and to have a a voice with video. Explaining steps -- you reminding you. Are recognizing where you are. Saying. You're passing the grocery. This is a reminder to get the milk. -- You run into person this is a reminder -- birthday. Again it's gonna require a lot of softer which is great -- that's what these companies need they need. Challenges that they can -- -- the answer to it. So I think it's. If I had to -- I think this thing is -- -- to be much more ubiquitous. Then we imagine and it. In retrospect it will seem kind of obvious even though it seems certain -- weird now. That is my big question that that's my big. Wonder and I don't know if I have the discipline and order -- Ayala the perspective in order to really understand what is happening with this because to me. This seems fundamentally different from something in your ear which is not always visible or phone in your hand. That having something that is literally physically between me and another person when I'm speaking with them this. It's not between -- -- it's on the side. I mean -- glasses it's just like an extra little button on your boxes. Here at -- You seem like you know when I'm wearing glasses that all I am seeing through these lenses is you just a little more clearly than -- would otherwise. If I have a Google classes Google class -- on. Then you don't know what I am seeing about you don't know what is being whispered into my -- metaphorically or shown in my eyes are what I'm taking a picture of when we are having a normal human interaction isn't even more intrusive then this video interaction -- -- -- now here's how -- -- Because you're you're an old -- -- that's what I'm wondering investment because there is still multitasking -- used to. He stood looking at a screen owners a voice and -- Attacks coming in and. Here's how I see it shaking out so. You have mobile phones right now there. They used to be this thing you'd use to make telephone calls on increasingly -- Smartphones their discs are constantly live. And -- you know information distribution thing that you have in your pocket or purse or whatever. They become more and more important as time goes by but there's still this really awkward thing that happens when you're at the restaurant. You're having a conversation with somebody and you need to do something with your -- if you want to look something up about the conversation. -- than you know the movie gonna happen maybe somebody sends you text message. When you do that -- -- shift from talking to that person to fiddling with your phone. I think you know people are really hard wired -- a very deep level to notice when somebody's actively engaged -- them and when they're paying attention to something else it's really easy to tell -- -- at that -- the dinner table when somebody has started fiddling with a cellphone. I think that same thing is gonna happen. We -- project last even though you know it's theoretically a little bit above your regular line of vision you know what's up above your -- not bright between you and the next person. But I think people very instinctively notice of -- just stop paying attention to be he's now checking notification that just popped up on his glasses and I think. It you know we're -- even with kids being adept at multitasking I think there's still going to be. You know a recognition that of somebody is just a little bit -- outer focusing on something else so I think it will. I don't think it's ever really -- to be completely fully seamlessly integrated. Well into conversation but here's the thing that we've also adapted to having cellphones and you know that this -- people recognize that we you know have more than just the immediate physical world around us so I you know I think that will become more ordinary as a conduit for information but it will be disruptive to. Street interaction. As it will certainly be destructive -- -- right and -- -- will write another book. About people using their classes all the time and how it -- -- with humans human interaction. The people still do it. T yeah it's not going to be something that happens in disappears it's gonna be something that happens and some people use it well I mean you know. Other people will use it really been heavily and it's one thing to use it at the dinner table when six other people are chatting. Reverses. Figure tightening your boyfriend and get suddenly get distracted by who knows what. But it will be part of than normal conversation that people don't have opinions of them are honest and certainly -- -- will be controversial just like everything else. I think the term that that we're gonna have to get used to is this this -- continuous partial attention CPA him all the -- on them. Let's move on and talk little -- Google. Google's mainstream business week's historic don't forget the current product we are getting -- Would right now as a matter of fact because -- I -- it -- segue from this conversation into. The future of Google's business which is traditionally -- in search provides the muscle that is monetized through advertising. That's how Google has made money is how Google is is making money. But as we move into a mobile world where. More people according to Google more people are accessing Google services via mobile devices now then through the traditional -- -- Google+ who plans are specifically. Which has the conductor says is everywhere now anyway. Optional discussion but -- more more people are moving to accessing the Internet as it is via mobile devices including -- Automobiles. How does Google move forward in a world where the traditional. -- search and advertising models both of them are blown apart by mobile and partial attention devices. -- -- -- -- -- It's. So first of all it's the usual it's either challenge or it's an opportunity and they do need to turn it into an opportunity. But you -- to -- the location market has been so small is because it was hard to do. Doing it well. Is going to be a real. Real win. And shouldn't Google -- figured it out by now since it's pretty obvious where we're going. On. It's it's not only Google you know the devices need to be better -- knowing where you are aren't. -- everybody could've done this five years ago was pretty artists aren't. -- I T -- -- cool new apps all the time that should have been done ten years ago in effect. People -- -- did ten years ago but couldn't implement because -- the infrastructure was there. -- Saying now you have. It -- just the world is much more -- you can tell where people are of the stores have. Yet the stores have an identity online they have their menus online the inventories are available on you can infect -- the web and figure out. She's. Where the car is -- here -- that kind of thing. So. The challenge for Google is to reinvent its business. -- Most businesses fail to reinvent themselves and -- sort of become. K a thousand and so the big question is can they do that I think in some sense feet. Is really interesting because. It shows that they're doing that there and they're doing something. Really way out there and in their answer to the problem of -- -- people can't text while they drive and they shouldn't be. Watching entertainment it's dangerous is not what stopped them from doing that it's what stopped them from -- let's have a car that. Gives. -- suddenly expands the market to. The number of people times the number of hours they spend driving their cars had suddenly. Yet people in a limited amount of time to do stuff -- watch advertising now we suddenly. Really increased that the worst traffic gets. The bigger the opportunity. For. Entertainment advertising all these are missing -- people while there -- -- That is a long game that's a very interest in opening it and that's why it's interest -- because it's it's not facts here. Know your -- are Europe's will be -- and also I think you know from actually -- and how this is gonna come to market but the former branding perspective it's really. Important because you Google gets this sort of cutting edge tech new genius halo that. Sticks to everything else and I think they're there -- they've had all kinds of you know failures and missteps and embarrassments but they still have I think nerd cred. That. You you know now that people really recognize technology's a huge important market. You'll cellphones are exciting to a lot of people now -- they weren't really you know until relatively recently and I think -- gets gets gets that so that's important. It is the handset a transitional technology as we move to more pervasive more literally in your face such information technology -- you need to display. And you know but it may be a good guess who may be will be broadcast on our on our contact -- Handset is always and in conference -- Yeah it's. Is in your -- is are you. Auto dialing somebody by mistake. It's it's a very awkward physical device. And the Jawbone is part of the solution and this is sort of like in visual Java. And digital evolution early. Mean evolutionary biology but I pay I think there's of a physical -- as a -- into cellphones that that is important and and to touching things are to make something happen at. You know watching my -- figure out. How to use a Smartphone we you know he he watches me touch a physical object -- against that part of -- reasons you so much but replace what you just said with. Books and paper and you just sound like a lot -- it. None of the don't know I don't think it's -- mean I think. So. Information but I think that information is very abstract and people start at. You know people's brains work at a much lower level for all you know when they're starting up as a as a you know an -- -- and -- childhood. You know yes -- we're gonna get. Information -- directly into our contact lenses and we won't have a need for display but I I still think there's something about. You -- physically moving your hands. And physically touching things that that's that's important and you don't proudest. -- is physical this is the point when you Wear it it does. It's it looks as if it's there. And you can infect you can gesture to -- impending but not now for at least if if you can't. I don't know about it but I would assume they're going to create something that will then. Recognize where your fingers are so you can in fact do stuff with your hand gesture recognition yeah -- And it voice recognition needs to get better -- lots of things need to happen. But the whole point is that it's not abstracts. -- -- heads up displays. -- real displays they're not they don't feels -- your right they -- with director. Moving -- just a little bit found. One of the other things I found -- thing about Google I -- was its focus on the Google Q media streamer and via. Nexus seven which is their new item seven inch tablet than the Google branded tablet these are media consumption devices. This one in particular uses sounds to -- selling the set costs me dual mode 200 dollars and it interfaces to Google play which is -- marketplace for. Television shows books movies magazines and of course their -- Is Google becoming a media company to compete with Apple and while Amazon and to an extent with Apple. -- -- You know plot out yes right there and that's what the apps -- -- -- -- -- have the DNA for its -- don't know if they have the DNA for it but if you have you know a million Android devices getting activated every day then. You know this certain point you get enough people hooked into the you know what used to be called the Android market now called Google playing now and when you get as -- nexus seven tablet get 25 bucks credit well maybe that'll prime the pump for some people. You know at a certain point if you don't -- switch on zero point 1% of people a day onto. You know buying some TV series or. Downloading some music from Google play it if you have. Android operating at the scale is then after -- -- that becomes a real business are happy and I'm not convinced that they really fundamentally get a -- certainly alienated a lot of the content producers with. YouTube and think you know some services like that but. I I would I would be I think it's kind of foolish to to write them off -- it is certainly don't have the position of power that iTunes has in this market but. Just look at the scale of Android in them you know imagine what even a small conversion of that. Would look like I think -- you know pretty you have to you have to take them very seriously -- -- how much of a power player do you think Google ambient in the media space. I think I mean. -- may not have the DNA but they -- to your audience and that. That's a big thing to build. It they become attractive to content providers. And they become. There's one lasting up to lessons when we get to first of all social. Now -- and ultra who runs Google+ over Google was. I think there's a person out onstage -- the day one keynote -- Google talks a lot about Google+ being the social spine and -- throw some numbers about how many people are using and they're very clear. Actually they're not very clear -- as the data is buried in what they say -- talking about how many people are have access to Google+. And how many people are actually. And how many people are actually. Using Google+ has the destination which are very different numbers nonetheless Google at this event. We talked about Google+. But they talked about other social products like the nexus cute as a social media streamer go to Sony's -- -- tap your phone of the things many can stream your media they talked about the new an invitation system mode Google+ and events Google+ events yet. It's it's not mean what's interesting better dance is it's not just an invitation system it really is -- experience -- system. Went -- the question it's not he's right it's something. It's going to be -- -- -- more interesting. I can follow on because you actually use it during the party theoretically and share photos you renovate you know if -- -- of. Eight if you sync Google glass is disruptive and not not disruptive technology that disrupted in personal relationships. Mean I would argue that exempts. Makes -- focus too much on. Taking photos and not and experiencing the event. -- that's extremely well put in that and that's the core of my question here is does Google. A company traditionally area -- the that the carpet party chatter goes -- run by engineers. Does Google really understand of the social. Space to the deleted the way that FaceBook obviously gets it in their -- -- can argue about what FaceBook does right or wrong but FaceBook -- social. Does -- get social and can they succeed to that extent here. It can get social of the people who like to take photos instead of -- and that's a huge huge number of people -- -- people. Are kind of dissension -- themselves from their experiences. And it's it's it's a phenomenon where do you like that are not on her and they're making it easier they're making it genuinely more social. Arm. It sometimes. I think in my taking too many pictures and not just enjoying the sense of -- offer whatever. But that's a very. It's it's a strong. Tendencies that people have to to take photos and -- shares of. People want -- record people want to record the moments and -- want to share the moments 'cause that's I think a fundamental part of communication but. I mean I don't know I'm pretty active in Google+ and I think it's a lot more than just about sharing photos and we'll see what happens -- Google+ events you know that's that's that's potentially interesting in part because you can. You props theoretically cement your relationship you meet somebody at a party and then now you have their information because they were there. But -- but that you -- beginning to exit to the earlier questions does Google get social. I you know I think. It perspective to what -- is saying about the audience I think that. The other -- criticisms that Google+ is a ghost town and I don't think that's true I think if you don't follow anybody don't have anybody in your circles certainly is a ghost town but you know if you. -- if you watch on -- some people is definitely activity there it certainly not a FaceBook but it's. It's got enough activity if I -- it's got a critical mass and interesting features I think that. I think it's -- that's there it's arrived it's real so. And I and and I get the feeling that it did Google actually does get it a little bit more genuinely than they do for example media. I think the interesting thing about Google+. Is also that. People being trained on FaceBook and they've learned a lot mean they've learned no don't friend every but he tries different -- Google+. FaceBook 2.0 not in terms of what it is but in terms of how people come to it they. They know better how to use it because of their experiences on Facebook's so you know many of the people on Google+. As you said it's it's not what Google+ has its what you need to get people. Do a better job of constructing. Their circles which are much easier to construct on Google+. There and technically I think they can't disagree with anybody that it it's a fantastic system it does it work. At the -- -- level the do we get it to people and I do I do think I do think it. I think it. It functions the biggest problem that houses that. Your friends are better because their own face but I guess we'll know that it's arrived when there's an Atlantic cover story saying is Google making -- lonely -- a look -- then we'll know this and one last. Google glasses making excellent -- -- that's. Yeah exactly or is is Google cars making us -- -- reflects this. Yes indeed. One last thing I want to -- -- before Esther when a document -- -- briefly. Is Google's relationship with Apple muscles and I thought this was a fascinating conference because. Just a few weeks ago Apple announced that they are dropping Google Maps. For their own mapping system up on their mobile devices -- -- and of course it is Google Maps. That may need the iPhone initially one of the things that made it's so darned attractive with that was a portable map in your pocket is something that it. Ever been done like that before that was thanks to Google and now Apple's moving away from -- and that's because of location based advertising and stuff that's a that's a serious revenue and I think Apple you know on the other hand Google at this event. The Google -- O launched Google. Chrome for IOS and Google drives -- file search system for IOS. It seems like an extraordinarily complex uninteresting relationship that Google and Apple happen and how has it evolved and what we learn about over the last few days off from Google -- Steve well I think that. What what -- just as. Google has a lot of eyeballs by virtue of Android them. Apple has a huge amount of eyeballs by virtue of -- -- and if you ignore that platform then you're ignoring a huge amount of activity on the mobile Internet and of course Google wants to have a big place there. Who was big company. They don't. They don't have. One single product. You wonder narrow vertical column and that's where all their technology plays they spread out as far as they can to reach as many people as they -- means they play on IOS I was talking to. -- -- -- -- the ahead of Chrome and Google apps and about Google drive. And you know I think it's interesting in part because at that I think it -- -- the the first step in unifying what I think is a pretty cluttered and disjointed system when you're accessing. Google services on Iowa tests are now they have Google drive that's gonna expand its gonna -- Google all -- access to all your Google docs. And and perhaps more will see about that later but. You know I think that they have very serious. Effort to bring all -- -- in all their. Other services and all their users to make sure that they have a happy healthy experience on on Iowa CDs can't ignore a platform that is. That widely used especially in mobile which is such a huge and growing market. -- -- his -- going forward. -- You know all I can say this competition is good for the user it's it's definitely. Complex and intense. And it increasingly. Contentious than in pictures and in the past you know. Google -- Was -- in hardware. It. Apple wasn't in search that Google did naps whenever they're all -- -- -- it now everybody's. Just filling up more places on the stack and is getting increasingly competitive -- Think in the long -- consumers are benefiting those because people are competing to sell stuff didn't -- because people are competing to make the stuff better and. I want to thank you as -- discussing Google but -- since we have you hear on the line -- -- on the line Arizona and at present. I just for second -- in your in your eyes say yes. -- -- on the board he said of airship ventures which was the -- the business that sent the sky drive the virus to jump out of a airship are called the blimp in Twitter and I got the air should the airship ventures Twitter bot who responded to me immediately it's not a -- -- an -- Anyway I'll tell us briefly about this as a business what is going on over -- -- should ventures Justin a couple of seconds because it's such a fascinating new business. Well it's it's one of the oldest businesses in the world looks at say. It's a ride but its salts I mean it's. It's a vehicle and you can -- -- for advertising you can use it for -- You can use it to. I -- -- Larry Ellison's house and I wanted -- to take a photo. I wanted to be discreet so I didn't say this is Larry Ellison's house I said. My other house is a -- -- my caption. I'm. -- It's a -- playing there's only three or four -- in the world's this is the one in the US. And it was it was a great opportunity for visibility we were not and it was -- was the people who organized the jumpers believe me that we. We provided the airship conveyance. Now is it true that you had to re engineer the door in order to allow the of them doing -- divers to get out safe area because -- had never been done before. -- thought we'd done -- a few times before -- But what I mean -- an interest in sync is usually people jumps from higher up so this this was -- This is a really spectacular stunts and yet that you could recorded on -- Google glasses was really really cool. You know identity in my my heart was in my throat when they did this the first time and then only -- and then when he. -- template and then Sergey came out the second day in the keynote said we're gonna do it again so I can walk you through how it's done it's like a RUE -- that it was just temping thing I really was out of his mind but it all warcraft thank goodness. It was. I certainly wouldn't shut. I was so glad you're the first time Wisconsin and in the second time exactly you know it was so great the first time white -- out. Magician does and they did -- the second time with with more people watching and -- -- meeting. Will get hundreds of people doing -- let us know if you'd like to do it. We sued out I believe no would be my answer inevitable cigarette in the -- -- although I have to pay for the and -- because -- -- right. Esther Dyson is them. A writer investor archer adventure holdings yes. -- And has been. At involved in foundational technologies the Internet in her work and I can and have the effect Esther thank you so much for your time. -- -- -- -- ankle and is senior writer here at CNET news writes about a deep inside tech stuff and interviews lot of cool CEOs in south. He can find all his work on our CNET news site news.com. We have covered. The Google I O conference. To the nth to the Google -- -- degree. Others a ton of great content from various writers on the news.com page so go check it out including a great story. On what it really took to get those links to drivers up into the air and to get -- de linked from them -- during the keynote. -- Will be back out in another week with another great episode of reporters' roundtable thanks Stephen for producing. -- -- -- over -- and death thanks Iran for tuning and we'll see you next week but they're --