Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt on Nexus S, NFC and Google’s future plans at Web 2.0 Summit

Posted on November 18, 2010


John Battelle (Federated Media Publishing) and Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly Media ) IN CONVERSATION with Eric Schmidt (Google’s CEO ) at the Web 2.0 had various  interesting issues shown to  the Android community. The organizers had released the full 44 minute interview on YouTube.

Below is a summary of the key points  :

–  Eric Schmidt threw a suprise and demo the followup to Google’s first Android smartphone Nexus One, now labeled as Nexus S. The phone  logo was covered up and Schmidt said it is an unannounced phone from an unnamed manufacturer. ( probably Samsung ) . No specs of the phone was released, but it had been speculated to be  either a single-core 1.2 GHz Hummingbird processor or a faster dual-core model. Schmidt highlighted the new smartphone come with support for NFC.

– NFC ( near field communication ) applied as embedded chips in a cell phone could eventually replace credit cards as a means of paying for purchases. Rather than swiping a plastic card, users can touch their phones to an NFC reader when making a payment transaction, where the funds can be tied to either the phone number via carrier billing, to a credit or debit card account, or to a bank account. Schmidt said credit cards aren’t going away for quite some time, but Google is interested in getting the technology out in front of developers in order to see what happens.

– Eric Schmidt also confirmed the Nexus S would run the latest firmware GINGERBREAD and should be available in the “next few weeks”.

– The next major challenge to Android as a platform is with apps, being able to find them, recommend them to users, and have the quality of apps that users are looking for.  When  asked about improvements he’d like to see done better with Android, he said : “There’s a set of things that the iPhone did a brilliant job of doing on a closed system… but that the next real focus is on the application layer. You have to establish volume first, which is what we’ve done…We think Android will be a leading platform, if not the leading platform.”

– Google is pretty satisfied with how Android has worked out, but Schmidt said if he had to nitpick one thing it would be how Google chose to focus on developing Android itself over emphasizing third-party application development. He bemoaned how people focus on the competitive battle between Google and Apple in smartphones while missing the point that the entire market is growing like crazy.-

– Schmidt confirmed that Google gave employees the option of taking bonus in actual cash, but declined to say how much money the company had sitting around last Tuesday night.

– Google is under a ton of scrutiny from privacy advocates this year following its embarrassing Street View Wi-Fi scandal, and Schmidt reiterated that Google takes its responsibilities seriously, noting that even though the technology is available to permit real-time face-recognition in products like Google Goggles, the company has made a conscious decision to hold back. What “we learned with all of these things is you just can’t rush a product out any more. An engineer’s political views is not (necessarily) what governments would accept,” Schmidt said. “What we have learned is that people disagree on where that line is, and it is not up to Google to make that decision.”

– Schmidt didn’t have much to say about social technologies, which has long been a weak spot for Google. He expressed the potential for social cues to continue to enhance search results. “We agree that social information’s very important, in particular the name value graphs that they generate,” he said. “We can produce a better search result with your permission. Information that is anonymous about what your friends are doing is made available as one of the many signals we provide.”

– When asked about hesitation from networks and content providers on Google TV, Eric Schmidt answered it as bluntly as he could: everyone’s making it out to be worse than it really is. The asker of the question is referring to sites like blocking any and all Google TV devices from accessing their content, and partners like Fox, CBS, and more following with their own-hosted options. And even with this sudden trend of providers steering clear of Google TV, Schmidt assured everyone that the talks are going fine and have been very positive.

– Schmidt declined comment on Facebook revamped messaging system which  while not an e-mail client, may be intended to sway consumers away from more traditional e-mail like Gmail .

– Netbooks running the Chrome OS operating system are expected to arrive any week. Schmidt pointed out  the difference between Google’s two mobile operating systems in terms of the input methods used with those devices.

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