Google’s Marissa Mayer Live at TechCrunch Disrupt

Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice-president of search products & user experience, is holding a fireside chat at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this afternoon. One of the best-known faces of the search giant, she often provides clues to where the look and feel of Google’s signature service is heading. She’s talking with TechCrunch editor and newly minted millionaire Mike Arrington.

First she and a couple of Google guys are announcing two enhancements to the recently launched Google Instant. One is a little arrow next to the instant results that indicates you can use the keyboard to quickly move down the list of results. Then you can hit enter and instantly be transported to that site. Instant features also will be available on other services such as video and news.

Q: What kind of traction are you seeing on Instant? Mayer: Nice uptick in usage–“something like” 10% to 20%, in answer to Mike’s question.

Q: Yahoo (and Microsoft) said they already did this. Was there really any innovation here? Mayer: Some of it is scaling. But there really is innovation here. We’re actually completing the most likely thing you’re about to search for. It’s not just search as you type, but search before you type.

Q: Is it revenue-neutral, or has it hurt revenue? Mayer: Can’t say.

Q: What’s going on with social? Mayer: We’re very interested in social. We think that social can make many of our products better. It’s a whole new area of relevance in search. We’re excited to bring out and build on those layers.

Q: What’s the most you’d pay for Twitter? Mayer: (Smiles to indicate, Sorry, Mike.) It’s a great site, it’s a great team, we have a lot of good friends there.

Q: What if Google had really focused on Orkut, Google’s social network? Mayer: The service here got really slow because of all the users. (Huh?) People in Brazil didn’t mind the slowness as much. (Huh??) There have been many innovations in search. But social is part of the fabric of the Web and something we’re very interested in.

Q: How’s Android doing? Mayer: Growing a lot. Business doubled so far this year from last.

Q: Are you worried about other phones besides the iPhone? Mayer: We see an opportunity in all these phones because we have a lot of services to offer (paraphrased).

Q: Why haven’t you left Google yet to be a CEO or retire, after more than 11 years there? Mayer: Search is not a solved problem and there’s still a lot we can do. Also a lot of other technology to apply to organizing and making information available.

Now from the audience:

Q: Any advice for content creators who want to deploy on Google TV and other related platforms? Mayer: Stay tuned (haha). It’s coming very very soon.

Mayer keeps grilling Arrington on how much TechCrunch sold to AOL for. Turning the tables.

Q: Why don’t you guys just acquire Facebook for like $100 billion? Mayer: We think that Facebook is a really impressive service. But it’s different from what Google’s doing. One of the things that concerns us is that … there’s a lot of content that is being locked away from the Web.

Well, not as much new from her this time as usual, but one thing shines through: Google intends to get serious about social in whatever way it thinks will work, and soon.

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