Google CEO regrets Nokia's choice, hails Android success

Google CEO Eric Schmidt took to the stage at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Tuesday to talk up the Android operating system for tablets and phones and to say the search giant would have liked Nokia as a partner.

When asked about Nokia's choice of Windows Phone 7 as its smartphone system, Schmidt said that Google would have loved to see Nokia pick Android instead. Google tried to convince Nokia to choose Android, and it can still make that decision in the future, Schmidt said.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft executive, said here earlier this week that had the mobile-phone maker chosen Android, the market would have become a duopoly, with Apple and Android dominating. He said he preferred a three-horse race, and going with Microsoft would give Nokia a larger share of services revenue.

Nokia's choice notwithstanding, Android has been dominating at Mobile World Congress. Vendors like HTC, LG Electronics, Samsung and Sony Ericsson have announced a plethora of new smartphones and tablets based on the operating system.

Schmidt said that there are 300,000 Android devices activated daily, and 150,000 apps in the Android app store -- a number that has tripled in the past nine months. Developers now start with mobile apps because that's where the growth is, he added, saying that smartphone sales surpassed PC sales last quarter.

There are a number of trends at work, Schmidt said: cloud computing, which has been present for a long time; the fact that devices are packing in more and more power; and the fact that networks are getting more powerful. Roughly 98% of mobile-phone operators offer megabyte-per-second speeds, he claimed. What's important about LTE, the newest technology for mobile broadband, is that it will create the opportunity for another set of applications that we can only imagine, Schmidt said.

One of these new Android apps demonstrated by a Google employee onstage is Movie Studio, an app built for tablets that lets people edit videos. The demo showed how a user can drag a title on an image, and also re-order the items in the timeline of the video, by dragging and dropping. A pan-and-zoom effect can also be added, and by pinching with two fingers the user can make the video zoom into the photo.

Schmidt said that the increasing penetration of mobile phones offers hope for communicating with people around the world who are currently not connected online, and solving some of the biggest problems in the world, including terrorism and global warming.

Referencing Google's entrant into the browser wars, Schmidt said that there are 120 million active users of Chrome.

Meanwhile, the company's YouTube video site remains a force to be reckoned with: Schmidt said that 35 hours of video is uploaded every minute to the site. Its revenue doubled in 2010, he said, and Google is monetizing professional content.

Schmidt refused to be drawn on a question from the audience on Android fragmentation, a concern for some developers.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt
Google CEO Eric Schmidt speak at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. (Image: Albert Gea / Reuters)

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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