By Liana B. Baker and Lisa Richwine
SUN VALLEY, Idaho, July 12 Google Inc
CEO Larry Page, absent from the Internet company's biggest
public events for weeks, is recovering from an unspecified
ailment that caused him to lose his voice and was in the office
on Monday, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said.
Page has stayed out of the public eye since last month, when
he was a no-show at an annual shareholders' meeting after having
"lost his voice," Schmidt explained at the time. His prolonged
absence has raised questions about the health of the 39-year-old
Google co-founder and the mystery condition affecting his voice.
Schmidt would not go into details of what ailed Page, but
said the co-founder has been taking meetings at Google
headquarters in Mountain View, Schmidt told reporters at the
annual Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley on Thursday.
"He's still recovering. Larry is doing much better. He was
in the office on Monday," Schmidt said. "Larry ran the meeting.
He is talking, but talking softly."
Page, who apart from being CEO is also one of the company's
largest shareholders, is also expected to skip the company's
post-earnings conference call next week.
His unexplained absence comes at a time investors are keen
to hear the company's thinking in getting into hardware with the
Nexus 7 tablet and taking on the likes of Amazon.com Inc's
Kindle Fire, and eventually Apple Inc's iPad.
The7-inch tablet, made by Taiwan's Asustek, is
expected to help funnel mobile users to Google's online trove of
content, including YouTube. Online pre-sales on Google Play and
select retailers' websites such as Office Depot's have
commenced, with the first tablets expected to arrive next week.
Demand "was immense in the first week," Schmidt said,
without giving details.
The world's No. 1 search engine generated $38 billion in
revenue last year. But with consumers spending more time on
social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter,
and increasingly accessing the Web on smartphones instead of
PCs, investors are trying to figure out how Google's business
will be affected.
In May, Google acquired smartphone maker Motorola Mobility
for $12.5 billion.