Google’s CEO and Chairman Eric Schmidt today shed a little official light on its place as the loser when Nokia (NYSE: NOK) decided to choose Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) as its new smartphone operating system when it ditches Symbian: “We would have loved Nokia to choose Android and we certainly tried,” and if the Microsoft venture doesn’t work out? “The offer remains open for the future.”
In a keynote delivered at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today, Schmidt highlighted how keen of a competitor Microsoft is at the moment — and not just for Nokia’s heart. On the other hand, Facebook is not showing any impact now, despite reports how it posed a threat to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) because of the many hours of video and other web content are consumed there rather than via Google’s search engine:
“There is no evidence so far that Facebook is impacting our advertising in any way, whereas Microsoft is a core competitor,” he said, earlier joking that “Microsoft has a very good product called Bing. It might be too good.” (In reference to the reports that Bing has been copying Google’s search algorithms.)
Schmidt says that there are now over 300,000 Android activations every day — the same number tweeted out by Andy Rubin in December.
Given that Google has relatively few apps of its own — and even fewer that are tablet-specific, it was notable too that Google today also demonstrated a new mobile app it has created called Movie Studio. This video editing and sharing app is very much something designed for the next generation of Android-based tablets, such as the Motorola (NYSE: MOT) Xoom used for the demo.
The app might have been designed with monetisation in mind (perhaps by picking up more personalisation info about users of the app) but I got the distinct feeling that Google created it mainly to drum up some interest from developers to create more tablet-specific apps themselves. “The rollout of LTE will create the opportunity for another set of apps we can only imagine,” said Schmidt.
He also put a big emphasis on the move to personalised search, something that other companies like Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and Microsoft are also keen to drive. While the promise for users is to deliver more relevant search results, the other side is that a more targeted profile of a user can be sold for a more premium rate to advertisers rather than anonymous eyeballs.
In response to questions from the floor about Android fragmentation — more than one person asked about this — Schmidt’s description was very much one of developers being led by the carrot rather than the stick: “We have an antifragmentation clause for our vendors, who are supposed to track certain APIs” when they make Android-based products. The advantage of sticking to them is access to the Market app store for their users. “And no vendor wants to be left out [of having the Market.]” This is what Google has, “rather than forcing everyone along lockstep,” he said.
What else is there to work on? Monetising apps, he said. “I’ve been impressed witht he monetisation of apps on the Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) ecosystem,” said Schmidt. “We see that happening more with Google.” But given the free app store GetJar’s funding today of $25 million to drive more usage on Android, that might prove to be a challenge.