Google CEO Eric Schmidt, writing in the Harvard Business Review (via RWW), says that Google’s 2011 initiatives are “all about mobile.” In his short piece he explains that geolocation on smartphones enables contexual personalization and a range of new possibilities and user experiences. But to realize that vision there are three infrastructure elements that must be addressed:
- Network speeds
- Mobile payments
- Cheap handsets
Schmidt wants to see superfast mobile networks and anticipates “8-to-10- megabit networks” running at “roughly 10 times what we have today.” These faster networks will enable new types of applications and usage.
He then says that although prevalent in the developing world, mobile payments and banking can be further developed. Clearly Google is interested in mobile payments and is doing trials with near-field communications (NFC) and local business window decals in Portland. The Nexus S has NFC capabilities embedded in the device/OS.
The third initiative is increasing “the availability of inexpensive smartphones in the poorest parts of the world. We envision literally a billion people getting inexpensive, browser-based touchscreen phones over the next few years.” Ka-ching.
This third point is where Android really beats the iPhone; there’s almost no way for Apple to match Android in the cheap smartphone category except to sell last year’s model for less, which AT&T has done in the US. It’s also where Android potentially eats Nokia’s lunch. Nokia has been very successful in the developing world with inexpensive handsets. In two or three years it may be fighting for its life vs. Android in these markets.
Android and mobile are huge growth markets for Google and highly strategic areas for the company. Google must lead in mobile if it hopes to remain as central to the future as it has been to the PC internet over the past 10 years.
Below is the Eric Schmidt interview at the Web 2.0 Summit in November (44 mins.) in which Schmidt talks about many of these same issues and themes.