Google Exec: Brand, Computer Power Yield Edge

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Google's vast network of data centers and the good will it has built with consumers will prove formidable obstacles for competitors to overcome, one of the search company's top executives said yesterday.


George Reyes, Google's chief financial officer, discussed the company's strengths during Google's first appearance at an investor conference. He spoke at the Credit Suisse First Boston Technology Conference in Scottsdale, AZ.


"We have very smart, well-financed competitors," he said. "What we have learned is people value the trust of our brand. It's going to be very hard for some of our competitors to compete on that basis."


Reyes said Google would continue to focus on users first, followed by advertisers and then its distribution partners. He said this prioritization would benefit all three constituencies by maintaining user loyalty.


"We obsess over our key constituencies," he said.


Google is about to get more competition in the search space. MSN last month unveiled a test version of its search engine. Microsoft plans to complement it with the release of a desktop search tool this month.


Reyes cited Google's data centers as a key advantage over competitors such as Microsoft and Yahoo. Google boasts the largest search index of the three, totaling more than 8 billion Web pages, 880 million images and 35 million other documents.


Unlike Yahoo, Google does not put a priority on generating free cash flow, he said. This lets Google reinvest in its computer infrastructure, which makes possible products like e-mail with unlimited storage; desktop search; and digital-mapping search available through its recent Keyhole acquisition.


"Yahoo has, for whatever reason, not chosen to invest as aggressively," he said.


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