PBS Commentary on the Smartphone market

PBS Commentary on the Smartphone market

I was flipping channels earlier this evening and was treated to a smartphone commentary on PBS which had interviews from Ballmer, Eric Schmidt, and Andy Rubin amongst others. This is probably the most Google executives have talked to media about Android and their strategy on mobile. Some good insights.

Steve BallmerEric Schmidt

My favorite passages

ANDREW SEYBOLD: As much as I respect Google, the wireless industry can’t be an extension of the Internet because wireless bandwidth is finite. It’s a fixed resource, and it is shared bandwidth. The more people who use it in a given area, the less data speed they have.

ERIC SCHMIDT: I completely disagree with the characterization that somehow the wireless network is going to be any different than the wired network, because there’s enormous spectrum becoming available through licensing programs, better radio design, faster computers, and so forth.

SPENCER MICHELS: What about the advertising? How important is search to how much money you make from advertising on phones?

STEVE BALLMER: Well I think one of the more important applications that’ll be funded through advertising is search, so search and advertising is very important. If I want to find a pair of shoes in stock, if I want to find a place to go eat that serves Italian food, if I want to find the closest cheesecake place to the movie, those are all kinds of search and advertising opportunities. And we’re making a big investment in our general capabilities around search and advertising and for phones specifically.

SPENCER MICHELS: Is there a difference there then with Apple’s philosophy on that which seems to be changing?

STEVE BALLMER: No, I would say Apple tends to think about things much more sort of cordoned off and cocooned, that’s what they did with the PC, that’s what they’re doing with their phones. Doesn’t mean that they won’t be successful, but it probably means they won’t be a very high percentage of the phone market.

SPENCER MICHELS: What do you hear that Google is doing in this field?

STEVE BALLMER: Everything and so I don’t — I know nothing.


STEVE BALLMER: No, there are a lot of rumors and we all just have to wait and see what really happens.

SPENCER MICHELS: Does that concern you, Google getting into this?

STEVE BALLMER: There’s already a lot of competition in this field. Our job’s got to be to drive important innovation and to work very well with partners. And if we do that you know the sky’s the limit for opportunity for us.

SPENCER MICHELS: Does Google think it might get into the hardware business and actually make a phone?

ERIC SCHMIDT: Well right now we’re just announcing the software that we think would make a great Google phone. We’ve not announced, and have no current plans, to announce a Google phone piece of hardware. But there are plenty of partners who are busy building interesting kinds of hardware that would use this new operating system that we’ve announced.

SPENCER MICHELS: Implied in what you’re saying is the phone companies, AT&T and Sprint, Nextel and so forth are kind of controlling something that you want to have more open.

ERIC SCHMIDT: We have been concerned for some time with the concentration in the wireless space around a small number of carriers who don’t give people enough choices. What we want to make sure is that you can go to a store, take any phone and connect it to any wireless network.

SPENCER MICHELS: Eric, what makes this different than the kind of phone that for example Microsoft is working on?

ERIC SCHMIDT: Those phones can do some of it, but they don’t do all of it, and more importantly they’re not standard. They’re all specialized. So our offering, Android, if everyone uses it, people will be able to build the same application and have it run on personal computer, on Macintosh, and on a phone. The fact that they get to go to hundreds of millions of people means that software developers will love to deliver this platform.

ERIC SCHMIDT: We’re giving Android away because we benefit when the Web is better. We benefit when more people are using the internet, especially on mobile devices. And we benefit because when more people use Google, more people use Google search and every once in a while those people will use our ads. So eventually we think an Android mobile user is pretty likely to use Google advertising and our studies indicate that mobile ads are going to be worth a lot more than the traditional ads that we sell.