Larry Page, in Unusual Q & A, Grades Industry Harshly

By Cameron Scott 

google i/o, google, larry page, In a rare question-and-answer session following the keynote presentation at Google’s I/O conference, CEO Larry Page graded major technology companies harshly while remaining optimistic about the power of technology to repair social problems.

Page was critical of Microsoft, Oracle, Facebook and implicitly Apple for not participating in open standards, valuing profits over innovation.

“I’m sad that the Web isn’t advancing as fast as it should be. We’ve certainly had trouble with Microfost, and I’d like to see more open standards, more people getting behind things that just work, but I wouldn’t grad the industry well in terms of where we’ve gotten to,” said CEO Larry Page in a rare question-and-answer session with the audience at the company’s I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

“You need interoperability,” Page said of Facebook Home, “not just people milking off of one company and not doing the same thing in return. I’ve been sad that the industry hasn’t done more of that I think because of a focus on negativity and zero sum game.”

Of Oracle, with which Google last year had a protracted legal battle, Page said, “We’d like to have a cooperative relationship with them, but that doesn’t seem possible. I think money is more important to them.” Yet, because Android has become a key part of the ecosystem around Oracle’s Java programming language, he felt confident the company would be able to continue to innovate its operating system.

Page remained optimistic about the power of technology itself to change the world. He said the thought the industry had only achieved one percent of what is possible, and pointed to the potential of technology to ameliorate health and safety problems, environmental degradation and poverty.

“People are starving in the world not because we don’t have enough food but because we’re not organized around solving that problem. If you think about that, we need to have software that can help us do that.”

Page posited that regulations posed a substantial barrier to allowing technology to improve health care.

Page also reflected on his own disclosure yesterday of his struggles with vocal chord paralysis, which have caused him to sound hoarse. The problem has little understood causes.

Page seemed to celebrate the value of crowd-sourcing medical information while taking a swipe at the insurance industry.

“I got so many great emails from people and such thoughtful advice. I had a notion that stuff should be very private, but now I think I should have done this sooner. If you think about why people are so focused on keeping their medical experiences private, the answer is probably insurance. They’re worried that they won’t be able to get insurance, and that makes no sense. We should change the rules around insurance where they have to insure people — that’s the whole point!”