Google's Andy Rubin live from D: Dive Into Mobile

Stay tuned... there's some serious Nexus S / Android action about to occur.

8:12PM And that's it. Thanks for reading! We'll have more from the event tomorrow, including Jon Rubinstein and Mike Lazaridis!

8:10PM Us: You brought Matias Duarte over from Palm -- is he going to clean this up?

Andy: I think you'll see the fruits of that investment soon.

8:09PM Andy: You saw it on the tablet.

Us: So Honeycomb, for phones -- that's your new UI?

Andy: Yes.

8:08PM Q (from us): One of the things about Android is that it seems a bit clunky? Are we going to see a sea change in a more user friendly OS?

Andy: I understand what you are saying. I would characterize Android as an early adopter platform (or for those married to people that are tech enthusiasts). We know the difference between customization and personalization -- that was the concept. We wanted to allow people to change things with widgets and menus. We had to make concessions there. Anyone can go to the Android Market now and start personalizing. I think you will start to see more of what you are talking about.

7:59PM Q: What can you share with us about plans for Android on TVs. Where are the biggest challenges in that space?

Andy: That's what Google TV is. One of the things we haven't mentioned is that I get pleasantly surprised when I find new uses of Android.

7:53PM Q: I'm the CEO of Appolicious. One thing you didn't touch on was discoverability. How can you improve that for Android?

Andy: This is all evolving. We're always adding new features and functionality...

Q: But page rank doesn't matter?

Andy: We're about organizing things...

7:51PM Q: What are the plans for Android to focus on the enterprise market?

A: Well we did a little bit. I think we need to do more. We welcome third parties to add software to the stack. We're not there yet. I think with the addition of cloud apps it changes things a little bit, the IT manager doesn't have to invest in the same way.

7:50PM Walt: You have a lot of apps for Android. Is that call going to dry up with web apps?

Andy: No. I think we just want to make the apps on the web better.

7:47PM Andy: So Google is a web company, but we feel like development has slowed down a little bit. We think there's a gap. So Google has taken the Chrome team and their charter is to evolve the web.

Walt: And how is that different than Android?

Andy: It's about the web, and moving the web forward.

7:46PM Time for audience questions. Q: Does the Chrome OS team talk to you? What is the difference?"

7:45PM So the tablet is running Honeycomb, and it's definitely a highly customized and different version of Android. There appears to be a desktop-like environment. Gmail is much more like it's iPad-optimized counterpart. There are still grids of icons. The tablet has no buttons -- no home, back, etc.

7:43PM Walt: "The tablet. What version is that?" Andy: "This is Honeycomb. And it'll be out sometime next year." Walt: "Is this a version that happens to work on tablets, or is it for tablets?" Andy: "It's a bit of both."

7:41PM "This same version runs on phones and tablets."

7:41PM "This is a vector version of maps."

7:39PM "So what we're showing off is some pretty cool performance. Again, about to launch. It'll be on cellphones in a matter of days."

7:39PM "So here we have Google Maps. It's not quite out yet. I have it in SF. I just did a search. I can zoom in. As I zoom in you see I have more detail... taking advantage of 3D processing power. This is a NVIDIA processor, a dual core 3D processor." Whoa, he just tilted into 3D view on the buildings.

7:37PM The moto tablet has video chat. Andy just let it slip.

7:37PM "I'm going to fire it up and do some demos."

7:37PM Oh snap.

7:37PM Andy: "This is a prototype of a Motorola tablet that's running Android."

7:37PM Uh oh!

7:37PM Andy: "I don't like to create these islands..."

7:36PM Walt: "You didn't... add video calling. Is there a chance you'll do that? I know there are third parties doing it, it seems like a natural thing that it belongs in the phone function. But that would be on you." Kara: "Like FaceGoogle or GoogleTime." Andy: "GoogleTime, I like that. If consumers want it, we'll add it."

7:35PM Walt: "If I upgrade to this, I don't get NFC." Andy: "There's a hardware component." Walt: "So what is different?" Andy: "We've added a bunch of things. Garbage Collector makes the phone run faster, SIP services... we took away the trackball."

7:34PM Walt: "This is the first phone with Gingerbread." Andy: "Right, that's our lead device."

7:33PM Kara: "What is Nexus?" Andy: "Nexus is the pure version of Android. It's unlocked. It's the pinnacle of what we think we can achieve when working with a hardware partner."

7:32PM Apparently Andy placed something tablet-shaped on the ground. We have no idea what it was. Ooh. Excitement.

7:32PM Walt: "Boarding an airplane?" Andy: "Boarding an airplane perhaps, but we hope developers will find all kinds of ways to use these."

7:31PM Kara: "This is pretty geeky." Andy: "It is, but you could have places that say 'put your phone here'"

7:31PM Walt: "Is the result of that always a URL?" Andy: "It could be other things. It's a lot like QR codes."

7:30PM Andy: "Okay, if I had a good network connection..."

7:30PM Andy: "If I get one of these near field cards out of my bag... so you can have these tags, it's just a piece of paper, it has the printed equivalent of what's on the phone, and I can hold the phone up to the card and it will play a video..." Which it did not do.

7:29PM Andy: "This is a device we launched today. This is my personal device, I have no idea what's on the screen. But this has a few new things. It was a rear camera, it has a gyro in it, standard stuff... but it has NFC in it, near field communication. You can see here if I take off the back, you can see it."

7:27PM The Nexus S is out!

7:27PM Walt: "Okay, but nothing in your source code, but is it something AT&T or Verizon, could they have added something?" Andy: "Not that I know of, and I wouldn't agree to it." Walt: "But Google services are on those devices." Andy: "They are, and they send the same information that we send on PCs... and this is all in our terms of service and you can see how we can use your data..." Walt: "So this is not fingerprinting... could it be, is it possible?" Andy: "Well, a phone has a phone number... so you don't even have to fingerprint it to find it."

7:25PM Kara: "A competitor of yours said 'you've got to ask about what they're sending back' like it's a probe in your pocket. The fact that Google is like the Borg collecting all this stuff... that occurs to me every time I get near an Android phone." Andy: "Well, I understand the concern, but look at the source... a competitor -- there's some FUD there. There's nothing in the Android OS that sends keystrokes or what you download back to Google."

7:23PM Andy: "I think if you've done a good job with an interface, you make it a reflex for a person. Look at a car -- you learn to drive when you're 16, and then you just know it. And there are little changes, and these guys do a lot of work to make sure things are in the right place, those little pieces of evolution... these things get better and better. With things like tablets, we're in the middle of one of those hockey sticks of evolution, and I think it's really exciting."

7:21PM Walt: "But you put your finger on something... it's only been a matter of months since we've had these tablets... we're going to see a bunch of Android tablets, a new iPad... maybe some Windows ones. But what is it that makes it more immersive... I'm resisting, I'm not going to say magical, which is Jobs' word."

7:20PM Andy: "Well you remember PDAs... you go through these evolutions of tweener products, the things you carry every day and the things you carry some of the time, those change. There are different use cases and different times to use these."

7:20PM Kara: "You're talking about having a different relationship? I was just talking to Bloomberg and he said the best relationship he ever had was with his iPad."

7:19PM Walt: "But we've had that on phones..." Andy: "But in the grand scheme, that's new!"

7:19PM Walt: "So we've seen Android tablets, someone on your team said that Android isn't optimized for it. We're hearing that Honeycomb, an update, will be the tablet update. What do you think about tablets?" Andy: "I don't come out of the box and say this will replace this... but tablets are changing the way we deal with computers. You touch it, it's immersive. It's light, you can manipulate it. The metaphor is much more physical. It's direct manipulation."

7:17PM Andy: "But I think it's hard to get all these teams together." Kara: "Harder than starting from scratch. Will they make an Android phone? You want everyone to make an Android phone." Andy: "Well there's no reason..." He stopped himself short of saying that everyone should make Android phones.

7:16PM Andy: "Well look, they bought QNX, they bought TAT, one of the UI designers for Android. They're doing the right things..." Walt: "But don't they have a problem with losing the people who fell in love with their product. You don't want to turn off those people suddenly?" Andy: "I think you can play it right. I think you can do that. I've seen people doing it before. The PlayBook is interesting..." Walt: "We'll have it here tomorrow."

7:15PM Walt: "It's hard to have a iconic product, it becomes part of the language, people love it... BlackBerry has been one of those products. It seems to be fading in the face of the new guys. What can they do?" Andy: "It's kind of the RAZR thing -- you have an iconic product, it slipped away, so what did Moto do? Switched to Android." Walt: "Oh so that's what RIM should do?"

7:13PM Kara: "So did you meet with them?" Andy "I'm not going to talk about that."

7:13PM Kara: "In Finland?" Andy: "No..." Walt: "Don't let him get away with that!" Andy: "When we sat down and made Android open source, one of our guys said this is the last bit blitter I'm ever going to have to write... because it's open..."

7:11PM Kara: "Who isn't competing?" Andy: "Nokia, really..." Kara: "Did you go and try to convince them to use Android?" Andy: "No."

7:11PM Walt: "So you think they can have some success?" Andy: "Well I can't predict, but I think so... if I could advise them I would tell them to look into more carrier and OEM customization... to be more open..."

7:09PM Walt: "Is there nothing praiseworthy in WP7? They obviously aware of you guys. There's more in common with the iPhone and Android than with Windows Phone... is that going to work for them?" Andy: "I think it's a good 1.0 product. It does look good, it looks unique. And there are these services that we talked about." Walt: "And Microsoft has those.." Andy: "Yeah, Xbox -- huge potential there."

7:08PM Kara: "So you're like laundry fresh..."

7:08PM Walt: "You were very nice about Apple... but there are other players. Microsoft has gotten back in the game... I think of your phones and iPhones as super smartphones... but can you talk about BlackBerry and Microsoft?" Andy: "I don't think it's ever going to be just two... I do think that Android has a distinctive advantage, so does the iPhone. It's new -- we have no legacy." Kara: "That was the idea behind Palm." Andy: "Yeah, they cleared the slate. And that's a big advantage. And some of these guys, Windows Mobile, there's code in there that's 20 years old." Walt: "You're saying there's 20 year old code in Windows Phone 7?" Andy: "Yes, it's built from the same codebase that Windows Mobile 1.0 was built on." Walt: "Is it bad code?" Andy: "Well, I'll bet a lot of the engineers that built that old code aren't there anymore."

7:05PM Andy: "If we were a start up, we probably wouldn't have made it." Walt: "To clarify... Android is profitable by iteself?" Andy: "Yes." Walt: "That's very cool."

7:04PM Walt: "You get revenue from iPhone people with your Google apps... does Android make money?" Andy: "A lot of people have the Google search bar, fundamentally we believe that has to be the best search product. Whether they type it in to the browser or they just go and search, that's important." Walt: "But are you making money... how do you make money? Are you profitable?" Andy: "Yes." Kara: "Very?" Laughs from the crowd.

7:02PM Andy: "Apple's a company that learns from its mistakes." Kara: "So ad funded... as long as we keep clicking on things, it doesn't matter if your products are successful or not... is Android profitable?" Walt: "Does Android make any money?" Kara: "How much, down to the penny?"

7:01PM Andy: "We had search, and docs, gmail.... and that's completely funded by the advertising business... that freedom for the engineers produced rapid innovation -- trying to do that as a one man job in this world, where one man couldn't get distribution... I think the web is the center of this." Walt: "So do you think Apple has the DNA to do that kind of thing?"

7:00PM Walt: "Everyone has been talking about Apple building this data center... people are assuming cloud services... so you were there, that's another place to compete..."

6:59PM Kara: "How do you look at Apple as a competitor? If you had to assess their strategy, how would you do it?" Andy: "Certainly they make great consumer products, focused, consistent... more recently I see them getting involved in this other spectrum of the eco system... services, App Stores, book stores, iTunes... there's going to be a Mac desktop App Store. So I think that when you start moving into that area, that creates a lot of new opportunities. If Android is the razor, the blades are the services."

6:57PM Walt: "So when Jobs said you were fragmented... and you tweeted, just some arcane... tell everyone what it was." Andy: "I tweeted the commands to extract the Android source code and build it on your PC. And I said that was my definition of open." Walt: "But you just said they're pretty open, so what does that mean?" Andy: "There's different degrees of open."

6:56PM Andy: "This innovation is happening at a pace that's so fast that the operators are just embracing it..." Kara: "If the iPhone opened up, they would embrace that too?" Andy: "I think they are embracing it. They're actually fairly open."

6:55PM Andy: "Well when the firestorm started about that, the carriers called us and said 'how do we get this stuff off of the phones'..." Walt: "But they put it on!"

6:55PM Andy: "This is about openness -- to let a consumer change the phone and customize it the way they want." Kara: "The consumer you're talking about... but I couldn't get any of that Verizon stuff off of it. Then I threw it against the wall."

6:54PM Kara: "Do you consider yourself the Microsoft of phone OSs?" Andy: "Well... no. We're the Linux of phones..." Walt: "You mean hard to get drivers for, no normal consumer will buy it?" Big laughs. Andy: "Well we know that's not true." Walt: "Then maybe it's not the best comparison."

6:53PM Walt: "You don't think there's any danger at all with, as carriers move to replace the Google apps... I thought one of the rationales is that you're promoting Google as a platform..." Andy: "Well that's what we're doing, and if that's what consumers want they're going to ask for it and look for it..." Walt: "Explain Bing then." Andy: "Well that's consumer choice, they vote with their wallet on one side and their feet on the other."

6:52PM Andy: "One of the things with Android is that we can differentiate. We let people go in and make them look completely different but all the apps magically still work -- that's a feature of Android."

6:51PM Walt: "So anyone can use it, but one interesting thing that I've noticed... I don't review everything, but the ones that seem to be... milestones... when I look at some of these I notice more and more that they're taking on the personality of the carrier. Not you, not the handset maker... there's a lot of what I call 'craplets' on there. And there was one instance, Verizon, where they swapped you out for Bing. And some basic maps are carrier branded... it's some... I don't know. These may be fine apps, but you're kind of seeing Android becoming the OS that the carriers feel they can use to differentiate..." Kara: "Focus on the craplets... the idea that you're a creature of these carriers..."

6:49PM Andy: "It's frictionless for these OEMs. They can check it out without a contract or money changing hands. I credit the open nature with the rapid adoption."

6:49PM Walt: "Speaking of carriers, I want to talk to you about the evolution of Android, but before that I'd like a status report on where you think you are..." Andy: "I think we're doing pretty well -- if you compare the size of this audience to CES, we're drawing more people. We were a start up that got picked up by Google... it's been a little over two years since it's been out, we've got over 172 phone SKUs... 50 countries... it's scaled very well. I credit that to A: pretty good software, and B: it's open..."

6:47PM Andy: "Since it's not online, we don't have to be the aggregators of the world's carriers."

6:47PM Kara: "Did you abandon that idea then?" Andy: "Well we offer the Nexus S unlocked, you can also get it on a carrier. But we're not doing the provisioning etc..."

6:46PM Walt: "The carriers weren't happy about it..." Andy: "We negotiated all these deals, it wasn't that we couldn't do it. But from a scale perspective... we had to connect every operator we were working with, in different languages, countries... we realized it was going to take 3 months to do every carrier. We thought it would be better to focus on things like Gingerbread..."

6:45PM Andy: "Well, the Nexus One was two things -- it was first the hardware part, and then you could go and pick a carrier. We may have bit off more than we can chew. We thought it was ready to happen for cellphones..." Kara: "What do you mean bit off more than you can chew?"

6:44PM Kara: "Let's start with the origins of Android. One of the ideas about Android and the Nexus One was that you were going to do this differently than everyone else. It hasn't quite turned out that way."

6:43PM Kara: "You brought a satchel of things..." Andy: "Yep."

6:43PM Kara: "Our first guest is Andy Rubin... but I don't typically get on the stage with Google execs... I want to disclose that I'm married (or I'm trying to marry) someone from Google..." Walt: "So with that... Andy Rubin from Google."

6:42PM Kara: "We wrote a few years ago that we thought that mobile was the future of everything..." Walt: "We're going to try and touch on different parts of the ecosystem... as you all know, it IS an ecosystem, if you yank out one of the parts the rest isn't nearly as exciting... and we're not just talking about smartphones, we'll talk tablets too."

6:41PM Walt and Kara are, of course, out. Kara: "We wanted to do something intimate and smaller... we felt mobile was critically important..." Walt: "And worth a deep dive."

6:41PM "Ladies and gentlemen, Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher!"

6:35PM We're in our seats and there's some funky, funky music on the loudspeakers here at Dive Into Mobile. Did we mention that it's funky?