It’s indeed out in the open. Speaking at the World Mobile Congress 2011, Eric Schmidt, Google‘s Chairman and Chief Executive, mentioned Microsoft as Google’s top competitor. In his words, “No question, our strongest competitor is Microsoft. They have a strong advertising model. They have the cash, the scale, the brand, and the reach to do good and amazing things.”
However his response, when questioned about Facebook-Google rumors, was not very straight-forward. “Facebook, on the other hand,” Schmidt said, “is not a problem at present. Facebook appears to be additive. Facebook users use Google more. There’s no evidence they’re hurting our ad business. At this point we think Facebook is zero to net positive.”
Schmidt hinted at the possibility of his company teaming up with Nokia – Microsoft’s newest partner – to work in the Android realm. “We would have loved it if they’d chosen Android,” he said as an afterthought.
Schmidt, looking ever the philosopher holding his notes in hand, also unveiled Movie Studio, a new Android tablet application set to debut later this year with Motorola‘s Xoom tablet. Movie Studio lets people edit videos. It allows users to combine still images to create customized videos that can be shared online instantly. Functionalities include adding musical soundtrack, fade to black at the end of the video, and other effects.
At the beginning of the keynote, packed with Mobile World Congress participants, Schmidt said that the mobile phone is the new PC. “Smartphones surpassed PC sales last week,” he said, and added lightheartedly, “By the way, PCs are not catching up. Smartphones are the future of games, productivity, apps, everything we think about. You have the phone, the new PC, if you will.”
He said phone has fulfilled Bill Gates’ prophecy that eventually people would have access to all of the world’s information in their hand. Android is now seeing 300,000 activations a day and over 100 phones and tablets models are now available running Android OS, he said. Google plans to deliver new versions of Android every six months for mobile phones and tablets, and that Chrome OS will be focused on netbooks and PCs.
A recording of Schmidt’s keynote is available here.
The Android booth at the Mobile World Congress Exhibition Hall was thronged by people. It was indeed a miniature world of Androids complete with an Android-shaped slide visitors could try, possibly to experience the thrill Android brings to the mobile world.
Android Guru – sections of the booth with companies using Android – showcased innovations in Android applications making life more interesting through gaming, health, multimedia, at work, navigation etc.
I tried the Android slide and even though the results were not particularly flattering in the photo taken by the Android guys, the thrill of being taken over by Android was there, definitely.
Earlier in the day in his keynote address, Peter Chou, Chief Executive Officer of HTC (which uses Android on most of its phones), said that the company’s focus is towards integrating the best products and services with its other hardware and software solutions, in order to deliver a more rounded solution for customers. He also talked about the Facebook integration in new HTC devices, specifically Salsa, 3.4-inch, 480 x 320 touchscreen device, which comes with a dedicated button just to enable easier content sharing. Instead of launching the Facebook app, the button provides access to Facebook functionality integrated with other apps, like sharing photos, music sending messages through Facebook.
Click below to start a slideshow with visual highlights from the Mobile World Congress 2011 Exhibition. The slideshow includes photos of the Qtel booth and Qtel Chairman, HE Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani.
Watch this space for more highlights from the Mobile World Congress 2011, currently on in Barcelona, Spain.