Google CEO preaches 'mobile first'

Mobile devices have displaced PCs for computing, communications, Schmidt tells MWC

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He also seemed to offer a bow to network operators who worry about ways to prevent a small group of users from sapping up all the available bandwidth. "We want to make sure the network is adaptive, as some people are consuming massive amounts of data," he said. "Realistically, they will be forced into tiered pricing."

Regarding Net neutrality, Schmidt also said he wants two applications that do similar things, such as video streaming, to have the ability to run on all networks unless one of the applications is using too much bandwidth. "We believe it's important for operators to deal with too much capacity [being taken]," he said.

Given the range of questions and issues Schmidt addressed, including his stance on distracted driving laws ("People should not be looking at mobile phones while driving") and the number of mobile OS's that will be around in 10 years ("The most likely scenario is that it grows very large and winnows down"), it was obvious that Schmidt has taken on the mantle of the new king in mobile, whether or not others agree he should.

The timing seems right for Schmidt's ascendancy to that mobile throne, but some observers did criticize his keynote for pushing too much on the big picture, even as they acknowledged the prominence of the mobile market, even recently, with Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 Series announcement on Monday, and the announcement of the iPad in January.

"I think it's interesting for Schmidt to say 'mobile first,' but another way to think about that is that if everything and everyone is connected wirelessly, there's not enough spectrum to support that," Will Stofega, an analyst at IDC who is attending MWC, told Computerworld.

"A lot more build-out of wireless will be needed. Everyone loves to be mobile, but is there the technology to support it? LTE doesn't help us in terms of capacity; it just sort of speeds things up. We need a re-arranging and rationalizing of how spectrum is used," he said.

"My response [to Schmidt] is that there's never enough mobile in our lifetime to support what you can theoretically get on fiber to the home," Stofega added. "That's just not going to happen. We need a clearing of the air in terms of what these mobile technologies actually deliver, not just theoretical numbers."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed @matthamblen or subscribe to . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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