Since Google began ruling the realm of Internet search it has become a major figure in my professional life. As a result, whenever an interview with a key figure of Google is posted I try not to miss it. To that end, John Battelle recently interviewed Google CEO, Eric Schmidt at the Web 2.0 Expo and posed some questions that have been tugging at my imagination lately. I watched the video over at WebProNews and jotted down some of my favorite points in the interview – I did the work, I might as well share it!

Please note that unlike the answers from Eric, the questions are not quotations but are similar to the question asked by John Battelle.

QUESTION A: With the latest introduction of a free online presentation tool Google has rounded off a nice office-like set of applications. Is this meant to compete with Microsoft Office?

Eric Schmidt:
“We don’t think so and the reason is it does not have all of the functionality nor is it intended to have all of the functionality of products like Microsoft Office. This is really a different way of managing information. It’s casual, it’s sharing. It seems to be a better fit to how people use the web and we think it is an example of one of the application categories on a web 2.0 framework
that we think will be very very successful. And my guess is that there are many companies represented in the room that are building products like this or other variants of this that are using this emergent architecture. You know, this whole story about Web 2.0, which I view is a
marketing term, is really an architectural transition from an older architecture to this new web based architecture and that transition which I think is what everyone in the room is a part of, is a fundamental computer architectural transition. Google is one of the companies that is benefiting from it, there are many others.”

John Battelle then responds incredulously by stating that Google’s toolset is bound to be “exceedingly threatening to Microsoft”.

Eric Schmidt:
“Well I am sure Microsoft will have a response. They actually have a set of web-based products which they can talk about. The important point here is that for people who are using products that are on the web who need presentation access and sharing”… “they are going to use this or something like this. And I think this is a testament to the strength of web 2.0.”

QUESTION B: What areas of technology is Google interested in focusing on into the future? Note: John essentially asked Eric what areas Google might be pursuing acquisitions in. Eric, with caution required rewording and responded with the following.

The 1st noted area of acquisition interest for Google
Eric Schmidt:
“The biggest growth areas are clearly going to be the mobile space; mobile, mobile, mobile. It is the easiest way to understand it. And the reason is that people treat their mobile phones as an extension of their persons and those mobile phones are very personal, very portable, and having GPS information in them now and this next generation of wireless networks, the 3G and eventually the 4G networks will have tremendous power. So if you look at the mobile space it is probably the biggest wide open space that quite a few interesting companies that we could partner with, and I won’t say beyond that, which are building either applications or advertising services that use the targeting that is capable in mobile.”

The 2nd noted area of acquisition interest for Google
Eric Schmidt:
“Another area is in the local space, most of the transactions we do in advertising are really good for local products. Go down a street to buy a car, go down a street to go shopping… that kind of thing. And most search engines”…”don’t fully take advantage of the local information that is inherent in the web. That is another big opportunity. There are quite a few companies that have figured out how to mine, target, or advertise in a local context.”

Wrapping Up
Other questions were certainly asked and I highly recommend watching the interview. That said, I was mostly intrigued by the quotes I placed because they show some indication of Google’s future intentions. Nothing was earth shattering. After all, it is no secret that Google Apps is thinly veiled as a competitor Microsoft Office. That is at least for users only requiring basic technology, however, the launch of a presentation application really makes any denial of competitiveness humorous.

Next we come to areas of interest for Google. “Mobile, mobile, mobile” certainly stood out as confirmation that getting into the mobile web scene is a smart move; do it now before everyone else does. Early adopters of mobile will be in a very good position once it catches on. Furthermore, the interest in local search is in perfect sync with Google’s desire to provide an enhanced regional experience. After all, the more local their search is, the more profits they can make since advertisers in every region will have their own top 10 listing to bid on. Exponential profit increases must sound mighty tempting to Google.