Google CEO Larry Page speaks in public for the first time in months

Larry Page, Google’s CEO, was forced to cancel all of his public speaking engagements back in June when a mystery ailment caused him to lose his voice. It wasn’t known when (or indeed if) Page would make appearances again, but the question was answered yesterday when he took to the stage at the company's annual Zeitgeist conference in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

Still, clearly suffering with a hoarse voice, and taking sips of water in between questions, he discussed various topics, beginning with how he gets really excited about the things that Google can do to seriously change the world, citing Search and Books as prime examples. Page also mentioned Maps: "We said it would be really nice to have a virtual representation of the real world that was accurate. Seven years later we’re kind of almost there, and we’re excited that other people have started to notice that we’ve worked hard on that for seven years". His subtle dig at Apple’s mapping catastrophe raised an appreciative laugh from the audience. When asked if Google was working on an iOS app, he gave an evasive answer and moved on.

Page also discussed self-driving cars, how Google chooses which markets to enter, and the antitrust issues the company currently faces, along with debates about privacy policy changes.

When asked about intellectual property issues he replied: "We see free speech as being really important, we see an Internet that can innovate as being really important and, in general, we should just be working with content industries to solve these problems. I think in general we don’t see regulation as a great source, or legislation, as a great solution for these problems".

He then described himself as being "cautiously optimistic" on the issue, adding "I think it’s important for technology companies to cause people who are making intellectual property to be successful. We’ve done a lot of work on YouTube to let people identify their own content and monetize it, and I think those kind of things are very important".

Other topics Page discussed included payments (specifically Google Wallet), Google’s role in education, and how the search ecosystem can improve by using information from other services like Maps and Google+. "Social data is obviously important and useful for that," he said. "We love to make use of that in every way we can".

Although he was quite cagey at times, and avoided answering certain questions (including a direct one about his illness), Page coped with the 40 minute grilling well, hopefully a sign that he’s now well on the way to recovery.

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