Ballmer and Elop were quite the pair during the Microsoft keynote yesterday, so let's say the bar's been set pretty high for Eric Schmidt. But that's fine, the now-former CEO of Google has a knack for lively (if not downright controversial at times) speeches. This is the first time we've seen him talk since he stepped away from Babysitter (his words) to Executive Chairman, and the Android of today is a few flavors improved from the 2.1 Eclair that had launched a little before his MWC 2010 keynote -- so needless to say, we're excited for what he has to say today. We'll be reporting live from Fira, so stay tuned -- the fun should start around 11:45AM ET!
12:51PM Last question: on personal features and permission. "Can you talk about privacy dilemma" and how to get people on board?
A: It's usually the case that if you offer something of value and think you're gonna be straight with them / have a strong privacy guidelines, people are willing. "Issues of privacy are very complicated" and he's learned there's not an easy answer. Lots of it up to local governments, cultures... and on that incredibly serious note, that's it! Thanks for playing, now back to the show!
12:49PM Q: Android's a success. Plans to move to PC world?
A: "Yes, it's called Chrome OS." Next question.
12:48PM Q: What can Google do for education?
A: "Our current view is that, dispersion of information is itself an educational opportunity and that's our highest priority." A number of professors that helped. "We have not yet come up with a killer education app." Many incumbencies in education that resist change. "Sooner we can get these people on mobile platforms," the better.
12:47PM "We tried to bring out one phone, in this case Nexus S, which shows the best that can be done. Minimum requirements include spec, but it's modest processor, modest touchscreen," and so forth. Important to establish minimum for consistency's sake.
12:46PM Sorry that last question was a fragment.
12:46PM Problems to face today? Very high connectivity costs, overloaded network, too pricey devices. With declining cost curve, the expensive phones we have today can be given free or close to free to those who don't have access to information. He's optimistic about that future.
12:43PM On Nokia / Microsoft: "We would've loved if they chose Android. They chose Windows. The offer to adopt later is still open. "We certainly tried."
12:43PM Q: Facebook has Like button, personalized ads. You worried about your ad business?
A: Today our major competitor is Microsoft. It has Bing. Times where it might be "too good" like they saw in a blog spot earlier (zing!). They have scale, brand, adn reach to do good things. Facebook today appears to be additive. FB users use Google more, no evidence FB advertising is hurting Google's in any way. Right now, FB is zero to net positive, and Microsoft is a core competitor and will likely remain so for a long time.
12:41PM Q on health. "It just makes sense" for devices you always have with you to provide diagnostics, and we couldn't agree more. "We were very hard to make sure medical answers are sufficiently accurate." Like, "you are going to have a heart attack, go get help now!"
12:41PM Q: How did you see Google in ten years?
A: "I'm sure MWC will be a lot bigger, and I'm sure Google will be a lot bigger. In your lifetimes, there were one or two technology milestones." Did PC, now going into mobile. 10 years from now, probably be more mobile. "Most interesting thing occurring is artificial intelligence on top of everything we've talked about." The things that'll make you go WOW will be in that field (and if you don't, it'll force you to -- just kidding). Can't predict killer, "can't believe we lived without it" apps.
12:38PM Q: Belgium government worker on the importance of IPv6 technology. "Not a lot of people here know it's important on the mobile world." So, what about it, Eric?
A: Drops more factual heat on IPv4. Last block will be allocated in next six months. Talks about Google's (and others') test on IPv6. Problem means you need to make sure you can route it all the way to the end. "General consensus is that modern devices have IPv6 capabilities. Most modern routers fully route. There's concern about intermediate things, what sits between things you forgot about, so we're likely to find problems there." Believes it's one of the great, urgent problems, but good news technology is there and lots of testing is needed. "The time is now, we have to deal with it."
12:36PM Q: What is your vision how Google will bring Italians in the social life?
A: Google sees itself as a platform. Regarding social information, "if you're willing to give that information -- and again, you'd have to agree to -- " they'll do what they can to provide better searches. Ditto YouTube, Maps and so forth.
12:34PM Q: Something on HTML5
A: On HTML5's future. "It's taken 20 years to get to this point." Capabilities had to be aggregated. "All vendors have adopted HTML5." Eventually, "means some number of years from now," a lot of applications used will be run on HTML5. Another example of simplification.
12:33PM Q: "Lighter Q, do you think Larry should've been here instead of you?"
A: Part of the deal, "Larry said you get to fly around more. He's extremely happy that I'm here. He's probably asleep at the moment, but if he's up, he's at his desk working on project." Sergey is working on a number of other issues. Both Larry and Eric like Eric being the public one.
12:32PM "Then there's Chrome OS." Largely targeted at netbooks and PCs. "If you're android user, you'll likely be on a touch device. If you're Chrome OS, you'll likely on a keyboard device." Wait until technology is mature enough to mature. In other words, unification could happen -- just not anytime soon.
12:31PM Q: "People are confused about different versions." This one's about 2.3, 3.0, and Chrome OS.
A: "Today I'll use the commonly used names. We have OS called gingerbread for phones, we have an OS being previewed now for tablets called Honeycomb. The two of them... you can imagine the follow up will start with an I, be named after dessert, and will combine these two." Occur roughly six months cycle.
12:30PM Q: "Are you interested in Twitter?" and something else we couldn't quite make out.
A: "Well, I love Twitter." Laughter. To the other question, "the demands are going faster than wireless capacity." Government needs to make more bandwidth available, take inefficiently used spectrum and give it back to people. It's happening but not fast enough, in his opinion. Second, must recognize there's 3G / 4G but also WiFi connection. Devices smart enough to know when things can be better done at off hours, like at night.
12:28PM Another reminder this is all opt-in, even in hypotheticals. Cites Groupon as an example of success here.
12:28PM Phone knows he needs to turn right, go into store, pick up pants. Boom! And that's consumerism!
12:27PM Q: "Can you share your visions on people's financial side?" Money management, folks.
A: "We're not into banking as a bank." Google money! "Management." Oh. "Larry and Sergey have suggested Google bucks but I've told them there's some legal issues." We think that was a joke. "But seriously, now..." he's talking about NFC being used as a secure ID for transactions. Europe is working to standardize it. "You're walking down the street, confused (as I usually am). Your phone remembers you need new pants—" wait, WHAT?!
12:26PM Q: "You said you will reocmmend young students go out of university and develop mobile first, but you see Android is a very fragmented platform." Thinks there's lots of frustration here. "What will you do to prevent Android fragmentation as much as it is today."
A: "I think you stated that more strongly than I would've," but it's a criticism he'll accept. "No operator will want to be in the Android ecosystem without access to those apps, so conformity is the appropriate carrot and stick method. Gingerbread should assuage those concerns.
12:24PM "To me, the tools and technology that allow us to do targeted TV quality ads -- again with permission and without violation privacy -- is the next great frontier in advertising." Display business is booming and fundamentally about telling stories. The better you can target, the more satisfying on user and more return on investment. "They're actually trying to sell something, it's called commerce."
12:23PM Lots of shuffling around.
Q: "You mentioned about personalization... to expand further on that, when do you think the advertising world will pick up on that?" Google is leading the way there, as the speaker says.
A: "Let me first say Australia is leading the word on fiber" connections. Schmidt is dropping some statistical factual heat -- from memory, no less -- on Australia's broadband services.
12:21PM "So this is a future that's very much committed to doing good. It's where technology and our approach gives... people time back. It's a quote in the NYT from Gibson." A coral reef of human minds. I hope we can all get together to explore how we all can do that together and make mankind a better place. And that's it for his speech, Q&A time!
12:20PM "Will they love Britney Spears as much as we do or care for other things? I don't know!" I think we have an idea there, at least.
12:20PM "It's obvious cars should drive themselves. It'd probably do it better than yourself if you're drunk." Whoa there, Schmidt! "Obviously you'd need a kill switch in case of bugs but it's coming." A future for masses not the elite, information must be only for the elite.
12:19PM "All of a sudden, you're not lost, you can love the earth, you can talk to anyone around the world, and you'll never be lonely." You're never bored; even if there's nothing to do, they can suggest things. "Imagine a calendar of all the world's events, it's a potpurri of what to choose from."
12:18PM "You can clearly have all the world's information at your fingertips because we can translate anything to anything." Wont' necessarily prevent war, but can boost talking a lot before it gets there. "We can now understand the depth of the culture when we're sitting at the other side of the table."
12:17PM "And with your permission you can know where your friends are, too." Permission is a pretty big theme, here, as you can tell.
12:16PM Computers are very good at remembering things, which we (as humans) aren't. "I just forget, everyone forgets, but computer remembers forever." Another thing, "I'm never lost! When was the last time you had a great 'I'm lost' experience." You'd have to turn off your computer to get lost, and you never do, so...
12:15PM Wants to finish talking about the future. "I'm one of these people who believe that if you look at problems we talk about all the time -- terrorism, global warming, financial transparency -- can be helped with computer science... these are fundamentally computation problems."
12:14PM Internet is fundamentally replacing economics of scarcity with economics of ubiquity. "I'd argue this is both scary and exciting." You'll see this with repressive governments and all kinds of ways over the years. Debate is healthy and he's sure there'll be quite a bit in the Q&A.
12:13PM Wants to make sure they can provide ad (and ad revenue) to partners who need the stream (i.e. for free apps). "We don't have our heads in the sand, we know these are scaled disruptions that impact people's businesses."
12:12PM "We're finally now being able to monetize professional content at a rate that we need to build businesses for those partners."
12:12PM In Chrome browser, it has been growing rapidly. 120 million active users. Chrome extensions will aid in next-generation cloud computing.
12:11PM "That's just the beginning" of a large number of apps that can capitalize. "When I say, 'what's the weather like,' it really means, 'what should I wear'?" It's a choice, you don't have to give personal information... but if you do, Google will do what it can to provide great and personal information.
12:10PM Google Instant "saves between 2 and 5 seconds of search every day." Plus it's a really neat feature. "When you think of Google, that's just an example of many, you think of speed." Now it can get personal. "With your permission... we can give you more personal answers." Walking along, he gets information about the buildings. Lots and lots of Gaudi here.
12:08PM Schmidt is solo again, talking the "beauty and power" of Honeycomb. "Google today can be understood in a different form... you can think of what we're trying to do is to get you to something really fast." Be a human, not a slave to the computer.
12:08PM Schmidt chimes in to remind the audience we're looking at Honeycomb. Connection isn't working. "You'll have to trust me it's there." Schmidt: "This is a Google engineer saying 'trust me.'" Oh, self-deprecating Snap!
12:06PM Exporting to 720p, but like any good cooking show, he's skipping the real-time wait and presenting the preassembled final product. "Barcelona 2010" is now uploading to YouTube.
12:05PM Customization options in a top bar. He added a fade to black. "I think something is missing." Background audio track, which'd be visualized (in wave format) just below the video timeline. Imported from library. We're rocking to some spanish guitar.
12:04PM We're seeing a collection of images. He's adding Ken Burns effects to his pictures. Pinching and zooming to customize the degree of magnification on the picture's effect. Can add other filters and effects.
12:04PM Projects are lined up horizontally. In the edit window, there's a preview screen in the middle, a timeline of clips on the bottom, a nondescript circle on the left, and play controls on the right.
12:03PM Built ground up for tablet form factor. It's time like this we wish we could still take pictures.
12:02PM "These new devices are great not only for consuming media but also creating." With 4G networks, high quality video is more possible than ever before. Movie Studio, a new Android application that allows you to edit videos.
12:02PM "Gill" (we didn't make it out) is here for a demo. Nexus S pictures to Picasa device, "when I get home to my hotel room, I'd love to use a different form factor." Cue the Motorola Xoom.
12:01PM Google translate. "We've talked at length [about it], but it's now arrived." Phone takes voice, digitizes, and supercomputer in cloud does the appropriate voice translation, done very fast. "You can be anyone you want" in terms of speaking any language. "Start thinking of that implications" of that connectivity.
12:00PM Because these things are unified now... we can take these devices and switch to other. He's talking about Google books, jumping from reading on one thing to another. "You really can do magic."
11:59AM "Why is my phone not talking to my friends' phone and figuring out which route is faster?" Why isn't your phone taking care of your health? It's always there.
11:58AM Bill Gates from 1999: "information at your fingertips." What happened over 20 years? Vision was correct, but we had to build it out.
11:58AM Back to cloud computing. Why aren't phones and videos not automatically uploaded? Why don't I know when my friends are nearby? "Wouldn't it be interesting if you thought of your phone as first a communications device, second as computational, and third, what about a serendipity platform?" Learn new things, meet new people. "That is the future of the platform we're all building together."
11:57AM Mobile phones are "gift to mankind," and given the amount we tweet on the go, we'd be hard pressed to disagree.
11:56AM Schmidt has a lot of praise for the carriers and the mobile rollout. Time to talk LTE. "What am I going to do with those 8 to 10 megabits? What's more important is that LTE platform... will create the opportunity for another set of applications we can only imagine."
11:55AM Average connection speed has improved, but demands have gone up even higher. "The fact is, operators are pouring billions of dollars and Euros to make it possible for us to provide wireless at this scale."
11:55AM "This device (the smartphone) has 20,000 more computing capabilities than the lunar mission."
11:54AM "Smartphones are clearly taking over, right? Last year I predicted based on a whole bunch of analysis that smartphones would surpassed PC sales. Well I was wrong... smartphones passed PC quarterly sales last week." Take that, desktop tower!
11:54AM "Mobile is where the action is," whether it's in Google's platform or others. "When I was in Sun in '83, I was very excited by the M3 platform." Schmidt really loves reminiscing on the past.
11:53AM "Think every single device you have" -- might take awhile -- "and imagine what it could do with the cloud."
11:52AM "I would offer a sort of happiness theorem that computers are really here to make us happier." And the quicker we get to that -- cause computers can do the stupid stuff -- the better.
11:52AM "I've been thinking a lot about this. We've seen so much progress in the last decade. It's interesting that it's happening so fast people don't seem to be appreciating as much." And it's changing again. "I think it's going to get to the point where technology is serving humans, and not the other way around" like it is today. He means struggling with interface, we fear he actually means sentient life we're not aware of.
11:50AM He loves visiting Europe, reminds him of their broadband goals. Lots of numbers flying out, thankfully he's got a pretty big cheat sheet with him.
11:50AM "It's not about the phone, it's not about the platform." It's the ecosystem. Schmidt is here to provide prospective and enlist help.
11:49AM Eric Schmidt is on. "What you have seen here is a history -- a short and fast history -- of Android." 350,000 activations a day. 170 compatible devices, 27 OEMs, 169 carriers, 69 countries, over 150,000 applications in app store -- that number has tripled in nine months.
11:48AM New video, this one's tailored to Android. We're looking at a dark map of the world and a scrolling graph at the bottom showing Android activations. It's like a rollercoaster and we we're slowly rising to the top.
11:47AM "The connected life needs global reach, interoperability, ecosystem... The Connected Life."
11:46AM We're bearing witness to the same MWC trailer we saw before yesterday's keynotes. The big takeaway is, mobile is full of awesome apps and heavy metal guitar.
11:45AM Lights are dimming, here we go!
11:44AM Our clocks estimate about 28 seconds to go. Not that we're getting antsy or anything.
11:35AM Just a heads up while we wait, pictures are only allowed for the first several minutes of Schmidt's presentation. We've got Mobile Editor Chris Ziegler armed and ready to go, so if you see his visage scattered throughout the liveblog, just know it's actually a blast from the past and we also got tired of seeing a long string of text-only updates.
11:31AM T-minus 15 minutes until Schmidt's supposed to roll out in Ray Bans and a wife beater (not really). We actually showed up about 30 minutes ago, but there wasn't much to report other than Jonathan Ross handed out conference awards.