In a "2012 update from the CEO" — something reminiscent of a State of the Union address — Google boss Larry Page has outlined the company's recent actions and vision for the future, stressing the importance of Google+ and social search. While the letter doesn't contain any new information about Google's plans, it's a comprehensive validation of the company's public comments and behavior over the last year or so since Page took the reins as CEO. Social search and product unification is at the forefront of the conversation, which is no surprise considering the amount of public heat that Google has taken since it announced that it would be consolidating its privacy policy — and the data it collects from users — across its services. Google's implementation of "Search, plus Your World" also provoked notable controversy, by placing Google+ results in its standard search offering to promote the company's young social network.

Page is predictably bullish on both of these transitions, claiming that Google's service unification provided "a beautifully simple experience across Google," and that "people shouldn't have to navigate Google to get stuff done. It should just happen." He also touts Google's commonly-cited math on Google+ engagement, claiming that the service has over 100 million active users (though data suggests that the picture isn't quite as pretty). And he stresses that next-generation search includes social results, and that Google+ helps the company to understand people and their connections — something that the company has been desperately seeking in a world where communities like Facebook are impenetrable to Google's indexing eye. Still, as Page points out, Google's had definite highlights in the past year, like its Google+ Hangout service, and Google Play's sweeping revamp that signals its push towards paid content.

Google's CEO also addresses "love and trust," by extolling the company's great responsibilities and the financial benefit it's brought to its partners. Page says that "we have always believed that it's possible to make money without being evil," and that "with size comes responsibility." He also admits that Google "doesn't get everything right," but downplays the company's recent public scrutiny, simply saying that recent privacy policy changes "generated a lot of interest." He says that "we have always wanted Google to be a company that is deserving of great love."

Page finishes on an inspiring note, saying that by creating compelling products, "we will enable you to do truly amazing things that change the world." And based on its product portfolio, we don't doubt that Google has the passion and talent to do just that. But can it compete in 2012, with the likes of the web's newer giants? Google's certainly trying — but to get there it will have get to know you a lot better.