Google’s former CEO and current executive chairman Eric Schmidt thinks that the company is “nowhere near close” to solving the problem of search.
In a recent speech in Berlin, Schmidt talks about how the process of invention is never-ending, and how the best inventors never feel like their work is done. For example, he says, even though Google.com is massively popular, the company hasn’t “solved” search yet, and it still works incredibly hard to push its product forward.
He highlights one search that he wants Google to eventually be able to solve.
“Try a query like ‘show me flights under €300 for places where it’s hot in December and I can snorkel,'” Schmidt says. “That’s kind of complicated: Google needs to know about flights under €300; hot destinations in winter; and what places are near the water, with cool fish to see. That’s basically three separate searches that have to be cross-referenced to get to the right answer. Sadly, we can’t solve that for you today. But we’re working on it.”
Although this example is interesting in that it demonstrates some of Google’s ambitions, the ultimate point Schmidt is trying to make here is that Google wants to be able to provide users with the most direct answers to any question they may ask. The EU is investigating Google because other companies have complained that the search engine favours its own results, and Schmidt argues that it’s because Google just wants to be as direct as possible and save users from having to click around.
“Put simply, we created search for users, not websites,” he says. “And that’s the motivation behind all our improvements over the last decade.”