@MWC: Google CEO outlines search giant's mobile efforts

**As published in RCR Wireless News** BARCELONA – As the second day of Mobile World Congress came to a close, the chairman and CEO of the seemingly dark horse not-so-long ago, Google, presented his thesis for why he thinks the ecosystem supporting mobility is coalescing around a point that will be “fundamental to human existence.” Eric Schmidt outlined three factors – computing, connectivity and the cloud – that will be paramount to delivering a richer, more dynamic and personally fulfilling experience on mobile. “It’s like magic. All of a sudden there are things you can do that you never thought were possible,” he said.

With low-power high performance chipsets on the burner, mobile players throughout the ecosystem will soon “have all the wonderful properties that we’ve seen in the computer industry,” he added. Connectivity, which has already proven to be a bottleneck problem for a variety of operators and their users, is the second “tremendous wave” that’s hit the industry, but Schmidt said he’s hopeful about solutions that are already in the wings. “The story is LTE,” he said. Seeing as how the United States has historically lagged behind Europe, South Korea and Japan in commercially deploying next generations of wireless technology he “was shocked to discover that the United States might actually deploy LTE soon.” Cloud computing, the third wave, is already allowing share-intensive applications and sophisticated information to be leveraged in impressive ways, he added. “An application that does not take advantage of the cloud is not going to wow anybody,” Schmidt said. Moreover, “if you don’t get the three waves right, you won’t win in this space.” Google has squarely set its sights on embracing these factors. The search and advertising giant is already seeing at least half of all new Internet connections coming from mobile devices and in emerging markets like Indonesia and South Africa, more Google searches are being generated on mobile than personal computers. Jumping off the “joint view that mobile is it,” Schmidt graciously told the audience “it must make you proud to have built something so fundamental to the human existence.” Offering perhaps the most recent example of that, he mentioned the reports of quake survivors in Haiti that used their cellphones to alert friends, family, and ultimately rescuers, where they were trapped. “What’s the basic message here? I think it’s pretty simple. The confluence of these three factors means something very fundamental is happening … It’s fundamental to everything we do,” Schmidt said. “This power that’s been invented by the confluence of these things … gives us the opportunity to make this the time for us.” At Google, Schmidt said only recently did he begin to realize a phenomenon that he calls “mobile first.” Developers are doing their work on mobile first and the company’s top programmers want to work on mobile applications over anything else, he said. “We understand that the new rule is mobile first in everything.” Schmidt then introduced a pair of Google employees who gave previews of what Google has been working on most recently in mobile. Search by voice will soon be available in German (in addition to already available English, Mandarin and Japanese) and search by image, or Google Goggles, will allow optical image search with real-time translation. During the demonstration, a photo was taken of an item on restaurant’s menu in German and it returned the result in translated English. Probably more even more exciting though was a sneak preview of Flash 10.1 running on Android. The implementation of the Adobe software is being tweaked by Google to accelerate the hardware capabilities of mobile devices by tying Flash runtime directly into the operating system. Google is now seeing Android devices shipping on an average of 60,000 devices per day, a doubling over the last quarter, Schmidt said. And if this year’s Mobile World Congress is any indication of where things are heading, Google is poised to come back next year with numbers that would impress any industry watcher. “It’s our time to be proud of what we’ve built together” and for “mobile to be pretty much the answer for everything,” Schmidt concluded. In an uncharacteristically long question-and-answer session following his keynote, Schmidt seemed at ease and entirely in his element as he took some challenging statements and questions from members in the audience. First up was the notion that Google is simply converting wireless operators into dumb-pipe managers and Google’s real motivations when it comes to net neutrality. Schmidt outlined the need for “advanced sophisticated networks that understand security, signaling” and more for exactly why Google would not benefit from carriers simply being transmitters of data. And when it comes to net neutrality, he said Google’s only concern is that operators could choose between different vendors of the same kind of content. Google wants to see operators give all players equal resources in the form of bandwidth and access. As Schmidt went through the motions, he hit on a variety of points that will continue to keep Google in the headlines even though he tried to clarify the company’s position on each in blunt terms. Google is not going to invest in broad-scale infrastructure nor does it have plans to go into the content business, he said. “We want to have a little bit of Google in everybody’s transaction on the Internet,” he said. “It’s not our objective to steal minutes … These phones are so powerful that voice is really an afterthought.” And ultimately it’s the end user that’s driving these shifts and they should be embraced across the industry, he continued. “The competition that’s going on right now, of which we’re one of many players, I think is hugely beneficial,” he said. “The fact that there are so many choices benefits the end user and the operator.”