Eric Schmidt: Today's Most Interesting Engineering Problems Are Around Sharing

Google CEO Eric Schmidt sat for a Q&A at the company’s Atmosphere event yesterday pitching its Apps platform to the enterprise. A couple of his remarks stuck with me today and I wanted to share them as well as a video of the session that Google has now made available to the public.

Schmidt made two specific comments about resource allocation, saying that the hardest and most pressing engineering issues facing Google today are around sharing and mobile. He was talking to the enterprise execs present but his statements were so absolute I think it’s fair to apply them more broadly.

“Companies are about sharing,” Schmidt said. “One of the new things in the last five years about the web is that it enables sharing-sensitive apps.” He continued:

I think of calendars as incredibly boring, but I’m wrong, calendars are incredibly interesting because they’re incredibly shared. So from a computer science perspective, all of a sudden we have our top engineers who want to build calendars. I’m going, what’s wrong with you guys? But in fact it’s a very interesting example. Spreadsheets are similar, the most interesting spreadsheets are highly, highly interlinked, something I didn’t know, and was not possible with the previous technology — Microsoft technology made it very difficult because they were not built in that model.

Schmidt also recommended to the executives present that: “You should always put your best team on your mobile app that enables your service. The answer should always be mobile first.”

As the mobile Internet becomes central for both consumer and corporate users, the core product questions are interoperability, security and safety, Schmidt said. “What’s important is to get the mobile experience right, because mobility will ultimately be the way you provision most of your services,” he added, saying that Google considers phones, tablets and netbooks mobile experiences.

Lastly, to make good mobile, web and diskless computer (aka Chrome OS) apps, Schmidt had a platform recommendation as well: “From our perspective the single most important development has been the arrival of the HTML 5 standard.”

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