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Vergecast: Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Google I/O 2022

Google I/O
right?So Wear OS
Pixel Watch
Chrome OS
Mobile World Congress
YouTube database”?I
Verge Deals

Nilay Patel
David Pierce
Sundar Pichai
Dan Seifert
Liz Lopatto
Alex Cranz
Rick [Osterloh
Dieter Bohn


Google Photos

Pixel 7
Pixel Watches



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Kind of the theme of I/O this year was you’re bringing it all together, and it’s going to become a very focused set of products and experiences for people across the whole ecosystem. How much are you actually bringing Google into focus versus you’re just lining up the pieces and making sure they make sense together?There are a few things which I’ve tried to do with the company: one is at an underlying, more foundational layer that focuses on AI. These are big active user bases, and so there’s a lot of focus on, be it search or Gmail or Maps or YouTube, making sure those products are evolving in a way that makes sense. And so I think both are important.David Pierce: So on the AI front, though, there’s a piece of that that’s really interesting to me because one of the things I noticed in the keynote was that things like LaMDA and Translate and PaLM kept coming up kind of in different contexts. And I think one of the things that’s been tricky for us to figure out is when you say “we’re focused on AI,” that can mean lots of things, right? What of this will apply to the products?” And I think it’s a fair question, but I’m trying to explain why we are doing it the way we are doing it. But at the same time, you’re demoing things in actual products, like translation, that are real for people or could be real today. Most other companies are like, I don’t know, “We’re going to stream some baseball games to you.” There’s a really very hardcore engineering component to what you showed at I/O, but it’s just hard to know which of it is going to come into focus and turn into a product and which of it is: Google has an intense set of capabilities, and part of Google’s culture is chasing them down wherever they might lead.If you go back, let me give a couple examples. But I do think if you’ve looked at the capabilities we are bringing in Pixel, etc., we are translating it into products and features.Everything to do with translation, though, I would argue we’ve been steadily making progress, be it monolingual translation or what we showed in the context of translation and transcription in the context of the prototypes — AR glass prototypes — those are real products we are working on. Someone’s speaking in a different language, you get real-time translation on the screen of the glasses.I look at that, and I say, “Oh, that’s really smart.” Right now, all the AR experiences you’re describing, they happen on a phone because a phone has a fancy camera built into it. That you’re going to cut it all the way down to that, and you’re not going to do real-time graphic overlays and stuff that seems really far out right now?I think it’s part of how we are thinking about it because I don’t think we want to overshoot it. Because I think we’ve seen a few companies, most aggressively Meta, make a lot of noise about AR being a bet-the-company thing, right? My sense is you’re not shifting Google quite that aggressively, but – NP: Sundar is like, “The real world’s pretty good,” which is about as hard of a shot as I’ve ever heard you take, man.Look, I mean, we are definitely focused more and more on the AR side, in the context of “the real world is important.” It’s how we see it. DP: But eventually, if AR is going to be as big as a lot of people think it is, it’s going to require basically every team at Google to build new things for it. Where are you in how you’re thinking about how much energy you want to put within the company onto that kind of stuff?Remember, Google came from the desktop era. And I think if you’re thinking deeply and building for the future, it is a big part of getting it right.So for me, it’s important that search works in the AR context. And so, I think if you get it right that way, you’re bringing the company along through these big transitions. And I think the glasses are fascinating in the sense that by reducing the problem you’re trying to solve, you actually can make a more useful product as opposed to trying to boil the ocean there. I do think the ecosystem — all of us see value in working together to make sure we make progress, particularly beyond phones, right?So Wear OS has been a great example. You can look at somebody like Microsoft with Surface and Windows, and you can ask the same question, but I think it’s natural. I think one of the things that Nilay and I both noticed from I/O is there was a lot of resurrecting of old products and old ideas. And then I guess the real question is: how do you think about opening the gate to get people to switch from Apple products — however many conversations we want to have about lock-in, and I promise you, we will soon ask what RCS, but they seem to be pretty happy over there and not enticed to switch to your platforms.I definitely think us doing tablets and us working better with Samsung on tablets will end up with each of us individually better off, and overall, Android as an ecosystem will do better in tablets. So I think it’s a bit more complex than that.NP: All right, so now I definitely have to ask the RCS question. And to taking Dieter: first of all, you guys focus a lot on products, which is great, and I think unique, but the more you focus on product, you have almost like, product manager-type of people, and Google is always hiring product managers. But just on a big perspective right now, when you think about the big companies, they have signature products. As you’re thinking about the future of the company and how all those products might work together and how you might layer the technologies underneath them together, are you thinking about changing how Google operates or how it’s organized? I think messaging is actually the ultimate example of this, where lots of teams at Google have built messaging products, but the strategy for messaging has only recently begun to perhaps coalesce. Are you thinking about that more broadly across the company?Yes. Becoming CEO, I wanted the company to go back and think a lot about its core mission because I felt it was important to ground ourselves there and really focus on knowledge. So I think it’s definitely a big part of what I think about.NP: One of the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the blockchain, decentralized computing. We’re talking right now in the middle of a literal cryptocurrency crash, so I’m assuming you’re not making huge bets today, but are you thinking about that next future for Google?Web2 was a big part of why I joined Google! So I think it’s exciting to me anytime the web evolves, but the web is a big thing, and no one person can evolve it, right? And it’s a big part of how we should think about it, not to mention AI being the most important of it all.NP: Let’s call it Web3, the blockchain, Web3 stuff. I think it’s important to think through user problems, what you’re trying to solve, and the underlying technology.

As said here by Andrew Marino