Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

GOOG CEO Predicts A Predictable Future Web - Stunning Absence Of Any Real Insights

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 27, 2009

Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb writes about Eric Schmidt's predictions about the future of the Internet, delivered at a Gartner conference.

I'm rarely impressed by Mr Schmidt's predictions or analysis of Internet trends. Even though he is CEO of Google, his position seems to fail to provide him with much insightful to say about the future Internet.

Take a look: Google's Eric Schmidt on What the Web Will Look Like in 5 Years

    • - Five years from now the internet will be dominated by Chinese-language content.
    • - Today's teenagers are the model of how the web will work in five years - they jump from app to app to app seamlessly.
    • - Five years is a factor of ten in Moore's Law, meaning that computers will be capable of far more by that time than they are today.
    • - Within five years there will be broadband well above 100MB in performance - and distribution distinctions between TV, radio and the web will go away.
    • - ...content will move towards more video.
    • - Real Time information is just as valuable as all the other information, we want it included in our search results."
    • - There are many companies beyond Twitter and Facebook doing real time.
    • - "We can index real-time info now - but how do we rank it?"
    • - people will listen more to other people than to traditional sources. Learning how to rank that "is the great challenge of the age." Schmidt believes Google can solve that problem.
    • - Real Time information is just as valuable as all the other information, we want it included in our search results."

Chinese language will dominate the web?

So what? It won't dominate in my world or yours.

Teenagers are the model, they move seamlessly from app to app? I move seamlessly from app to app. So do you. I'm fed up with received wisdom about the digital savviness of teenagers. I've got teenagers, and I know their friends. They are as plugged in as you and I. They are better at some things, they are clueless about other things.

There is less of a generational gap than many people without teenagers think. It is an experiential gap. You have to be exposed to the digital world in order to know it.

Five years is a factor of ten in Moore's Law. The math doesn't look right. Computing power doubles roughly every two years. But so what? What are we going to be doing with that extra computing power?

Distribution distinctions between the web, radio and TV will go away. OMG. Is this the best he can do? I haven't had cable TV for a couple of years, I watch TV through my laptop connected to the TV, I listen to radio podcasts over DSL. I'm no different from tens of millions of people who have already noticed that distribution distinctions have gone away.

People will listen more to other people than to traditional sources. They always have listened to other people given the chance, now social networks make it easier to share recommendations. Learning how to rank this information is a problem? There's no problem here, people know how to rank their friends and their social network sources. It's a personal ranking that is far more relevant, far more targeted than any algorithm Google could come up with.

Real time information is just as valuable as all the other information. Another valuable insight from a company whose mission has always been to "index all the world's information."

The quality of Mr Schmidt's predictions are stunningly disappointing especially since he is sitting on top of a company that is privy to massive amounts of web usage data from every part of the world. Not to mention the tens of thousands of engineers working on new projects.


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