Meir Brand: Man and machine will merge

Google Israel head Meir Brand discusses the huge pace of change in 21st century technology.

"Man and machine are kept separate now. But in ten years, the technology will be a physical part of our bodies, and it will expand our capabilities. We'll be able to tackle medical problems even before they are diagnosed, using preventative and other methods. We're headed for a world in which data processing, with all its availability and capability, will bring us breakthroughs in many fields," Google Israel, Africa and Greece managing director Meir Brand said that the 2012 GoMobile Conference yesterday.

Brand said, "The pace of change in our world is inconceivable. In the US, it took 40 years for telephones to reach 40% of the population, it took 20 years for cellphones, and 10 years for smartphones, and even fewer for tablets. Within five years, we'll have a screen saturated world, there will connectivity between the offline and online worlds, and life will go on."

Brand continued, "Four billion of the world's seven billion people have a mobile phone. For example, in Africa, the first experience with data and Internet access is via a mobile device. In South Africa, there are one million landlines for Internet access for computers, and nine million mobile Internet access connections. In the Third World, people are leapfrogging access to the personal computer, and people are going directly to mobile."

Asked about Google Plus, Google's social network which has not been a resounding success, Brand said, "The amount of time spent by Google Plus members is not the measure. People don’t spend a lot of time on this network. We take our Internet experience into dimension that improves the entire search experience, and we're moving forward at a rate of hundreds of millions of users."

Brand says that in the competition against Facebook, it is necessary to constantly focus on innovation. "The company which loses two innovations, two revolutions, will find itself out of the game. It's true that Google was late to the social world, but we had bets on the mobile with Android and on video with YouTube, and the bet on browsers - all these bets were all successes."

"Globes": How is Google readying for the transition to mobile with regard to advertisers?

Brand: "This is an important and dramatic transition. If you look at the number of searches, three years ago, everything was from the desktop, and now a quarter of all searches are by mobile. There are two ecosystems in this world: Apple's iPhone, and Google's Android. Apple invested thought in the user experience, and Android is an open system philosophy which does not censor app developers. The difference is that Apple chooses to use a good experience, while with us, the user chooses his surfing experience."

For advertisers, what changes with the transition to mobile?

"There is active activity on mobile. Studies show that Israelis spend 80 minutes on mobile apps, more than they talk on the phone. It isn't a mobile phone; it's a mini computer. Advertisers must adapt their sites to the mobile world. The site should create a high mobile user experience. It's necessary to adapt mobile ad campaigns to be different from desktop campaigns, and so on. Advertisers have not yet adapted their sites to mobile, and there is a huge opportunity here to receive low cost per minute in the mobile world."

How does Google protect our privacy?

"That's a complicated question, because each person defines privacy differently. This is especially true for the generation gap. Children display every experience to the online world, and companies will also have to be more transparent about their privacy policies. It's impossible to hide behind contracts in legalese that no one can understand. Beyond that, people must understand that they must actively choose anything that might harm their privacy, and to make smart choices that they can control. Companies should allow users to control the information that exposes their identity at the browser level."

Will Google's profits be hurt by mobile advertising?

"It's true that the screen is small, but you should realize that it takes time for every new medium to be cracked at the business level. Advertising is becoming more effective, and it takes time to build a mobile ecosystem and adapt outside formats, such as location-based ads."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on October 30, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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