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Google's Grand Ambitions

Updated from 9:52 a.m. to include additional information from the letter in the twelfth paragraph.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Google (GOOG - Get Report) seemingly has its hands in nearly every facet of technology, from search to email, maps, mobile, video and more, with initiatives like Google Glass, Project Loon and smart contact lens. If CEO Larry Page has his way, this will be just the beginning. 

Google's Page put out his annual letter to shareholders Thursday, noting that Google's mission, which has been "to develop services that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible," is now more than just that, as the company has evolved from a start-up in a Stanford laboratory in the mid-1990's, to the world's largest search engine with a $355 billion market cap.

As Google continues to grow, not just in scale, but in use, Page noted that search continues to remain more incredible than ever and faster than ever. "There are over 100 billion searches a month (a whopping 15 percent of which we've never seen before), and we now update our index within seconds to ensure we show the freshest results," Page wrote in the letter. "To make life easier, we're increasingly able to provide direct answers to your questions.  For example, 'what's the deepest lake in the world?' (It's Lake Baikal in Siberia at 1,741 meters) or, 'when does my flight leave?' or, 'how many calories in a pancake?'  And, I am excited by the progress we have made with Voice Search, which now works in over 38 languages, including, most recently, Thai and Vietnamese.  Speaking is often the quickest, easiest way to ask, especially if you're using a mobile device."

According to Netmarketshare.com, Google owns 68.7% of the global search market. The next largest is Baidu (BIDU), the Chinese version of Google, which has just 17% of the global search market (desktop, mobile and console). Yahoo! (YHOO), Microsoft's (MSFT) Bing and AOL (AOL) round out the top five, with 6.6%, 6.4% and 0.26% of the market, respectively.

Despite this, Page noted Google is nowhere close to building the search engine he really wants, noting the company is "a million miles away from creating the search engine of my dreams, one that gets you just the right information at the exact moment you need it with almost no effort." The Mountain View, Calif.-based Google is starting to solve this problem with Google Now, a predictive search engine that gives you information without asking, as well as Google+, the company's social networking platform that provides recommendations for things that are of interest to you.

Google, which makes its money largely from selling ads on search, is trying to improve the way people interact with technology. The company has been busy buying companies that help with this, such as adding Waze to Google Maps, or increasing the capabilities and narrowing the focus on Google Now. Page makes this point, noting that consumers need traffic information to be accessible, so that time isn't wasted traveling and plans can be made to avoid congestion. Page noted contextual search is getting closer, pointing out the example of asking how tall the Eiffel Tower is, then asking when "it" was built, the "it" being the Eiffel Tower.

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