Google CEO Talks Smack to Employees, Apple and Facebook
Is it possible to be truly successful without a little friendly competition? Maybe, according to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) CEO Larry Page in a recent interview with Wired. “It’s hard to find actual examples of really amazing things that happened solely due to competition,” says Page. “How exciting is it to come to work if the best you can do is trounce some other company that does roughly the same thing? That’s why most companies decay slowly over time. They tend to do approximately what they did before, with a few minor changes.”
Regardless, Page did have a few opinions to share about primary competitor Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) as well as social networking behemoth Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). He insists that innovation is the true key to tech greatness, not incremental updates to already-existing products. “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,” Page explains. “It’s natural for people to want to work on things that they know aren’t going to fail. But incremental improvement is guaranteed to be obsolete over time… If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things.”
Gmail, for example, was a giant leap for what was once an exclusively search engine-oriented company. And Google X is the company’s famously hush-hush laboratory rumored to be working on everything from a self-driving car to augmented reality glasses.
“While Google has made some missteps in recent years, and while its power has deservedly drawn the scrutiny of regulators and critics,” writes Steven Levy, “it remains a flagship for optimists who believe that innovation will provide us with not just delightful gadgetry, but solutions to our problems and inspiration for our dreams. For those people… a car that drives itself (to name one of the company’s recent tech triumphs) is a much more valuable dividend than one calculated in cents per share.”
There was also, of course, a brief discussion of Maps, in which Wired posed a question comparing Apple’s “walled-garden approach” to Android’s more open platform — as evidenced by Apple’s decision to remove Google Maps from iOS 6 and replace it with their own app. Page declined to comment on the strained relationship, but acknowledged that Google Maps has come out ahead in terms of quality, and that it is “clearly more appreciated now.”
When asked if Google+ came about as a competitive response to Facebook, Page says, “It’s not the way I think about it. We had real issues with how our users shared information, how they expressed their identity, and so on. And, yeah, they’re a company that’s strong in that space. But they’re also doing a really bad job on their products. For us to succeed, is it necessary for some other company to fail? No. We’re actually doing something different. I think it’s outrageous to say that there’s only space for one company in these areas.”
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