Google chief says AI set to take over from mobile
Following last week’s predictions by Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai showed that the search giant has a vision about artificial intelligence too.
Quizzed on parent Alphabet’s Q1 2016 investor call about areas where Google is pushing forward innovation, Pichai said search, particularly on mobile devices, has the opportunity to become closer to a personal assistant for users and, to fulfill that vision, must deploy machine learning and AI.
“And overall, I do think in the long run, I think we will evolve in computing from a mobile first to an AI first world. And I do think we are at the forefront of development,” he said, polishing the search giant’s credentials just a week after founder Mark Zuckerberg made a similar claim for Facebook at the F8 developer event. AI-based chatbots, for instance for Facebook Messenger, was a big theme at the social giant’s event.
Pichai also referenced the “great strides” made by AlphaGo, developed by Google subsidiary DeepMind, which shocked audiences when it beat a professional South Korean Go player in Seoul last month.
“It was a privilege to play legendary Go player, Lee Sedol, in such an important milestone for artificial intelligence. This is another step to what’s creating AI that could help us with everything from our daily tasks to potentially even bigger challenges like climate change and cancer diagnosis.”
Turning to the financials, Alphabet’s first quarter revenue was $20.3 billion, up 17 per cent year on year. Unsurprisingly, the lion’s share was from Google at over $20 billion, up from $17.2 billion.
The company attributed revenue growth in its core business to increased use of mobile search by consumers, as well as “solid” growth from desktop and tablet search and “continued strength” from YouTube and programmatic advertising.
“YouTube on mobile alone now reaches more 18 to 34 and 18 to 49 year olds in the US than any TV network, broadcast or cable,” pointed out Pichai.
So-called Other Bets only generated revenue of $166 million, although that does represent a doubling from $80 million a year ago.
CFO Ruth Porat termed most of the projects in Other Bets as “pre-revenue”.
Most of what is generated revenue wise from Other Bets, also known as the company’s moonshots projects, come from three sources: Fiber, Nest and Verily (previously known as Google Life Sciences). Its other activities, such as self-driving cars and Project Loon, generate even less revenue, although often create as least as much interest.
Payments to other websites, known as traffic acquisition costs, which reflects the shift to mobile advertising, rose to $3.8 billion.
Google’s operating income was $6.3 billion, up from $5.2 billion a year earlier. Meanwhile Other Bets lost a whopping $802 million, compared to $633 million.