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Google chief says Web future is 'limitless'

In a keynote speech at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit yesterday, Eric Schmidt responded to concerns about who controls all the data the internet giant has accumulated.

If you feel you are suffering from information overload, Eric Schmidt, the chairman and chief executive of Google, has a warning: there is more on the way. Mr Schmidt said the technological barrier that the industry previously thought would curb the internet no longer existed, rendering the Web a "limitless" pool of information.

"It's going to get even more unmanageable in three or four years," he added. "Trust me, we can connect devices to your shoes, your watch, all the things you want to do with your internet - When you get all that information in one place, you have this powerful network, 'cloud computing' and the mobile device, [and] magic ensues. And that is, fundamentally, the future of technology." In a keynote speech at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit yesterday, Mr Schmidt responded to concerns about who controls all the data the internet giant has accumulated.

"Who else would you want to control all that information?" he said, and insisted the company was careful about how it used such information. He added that Google had a strong financial incentive not to violate customers' trust. "Competitors would win and we would lose. That's a high incentive to maintain trust." He also revealed there were some businesses the company shied away from. "We thought about predicting the stock market. But we decided that that was illegal."

Mr Schmidt said future innovations for Google included real-time voice and text translation. He also predicted that in the next three years, a billion more people would be able to access the Web, largely through mobile phones. And he said the continued rise in the popularity of the online world would present an opportunity for Google as more internet users tapped into its technology. Mr Schmidt told summit delegates that all media companies should adopt an "internet first" strategy.

"If you're a famous producer, you'll build a show on the internet first and see how well it does. Think of the internet as an opportunity to reach people in a low-cost way. It's not going to replace existing models, movies or television." Reaction to Mr Schmidt's comments was enthusiastic. Mohammed al Ghanim, the director general of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, said the number of connections to devices would at least triple in the coming years as more homes and cars hooked up online.

"I really don't think anyone can quantify the amount of information that is going to be available in the future," Mr al Ghanim said. "It's going to be a lot." Businesses stand to reap the rewards of such expansion. With more devices connected to the Web, companies would see an extraordinary shift of resources and revenues to the internet and mobile devices, said Amar Goel, the founder and chief executive of Komli, the leading online advertising platform in India.

"The media tends to be about where people are spending their time, and that's where marketers want to be," said Mr Goel. Following his keynote address, Mr Schmidt praised the Vevo website, an online music video venture that Google and the Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) run. ADMC is the owner and publisher of The National. "It looks like [Vevo] is going to become a significant part of the internet," Mr Schmidt said. "It seems to be part of the answer to what the music industry's problems have been [online]."

@Email:dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae ashah@thenational.ae

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