Keynote from Eric Smith at IFA Berlin yesterday. Great perspective on Connected TV. (Via GSMA Mobile)
Google CEO Eric Schmidt used his closing keynote presentation yesterday at this year’s IFA conference in Berlin to reveal his company’s future plans and strategy around Android, search and television.
Kicking off with his previously proclaimed notion of a ‘Mobile First’ strategy (noting that the mobile Web is growing eight times faster than the equivalent desktop Web model of ten years ago, as well as the fact smartphone sales will soon surpass PC sales), Google’s head man focused initially on his company’s efforts in the search sector. He stated that one in three queries from smartphones are concerned with search, and that mobile search traffic grew 50 percent in the first half of 2010, “growing much quicker than everything else.” Search traffic from Android phones tripled in the first half of 2010, he claimed.
To that end, Schmidt spoke of the idea of "information at your fingertips,” giving the example of a tourist using a smartphone to find his way to a particular historic building via the phone's navigation software, and then using the phone's camera and object recognition software to relay information about that particular building to the tourist. "You can know literally everything," said Schmidt. "It's fantastic. And this is only going to become more pervasive."
Schmidt believes search is personal, and that the next step for search is to be able to find things for you automatically based on your likes: "When I walk down the streets of Berlin, I like history. What I want is for my computer—my smartphone—to be doing searches constantly. Did you know? Did you know? Did you know? This occurred here. This occurred there. Because it knows who I am, it knows what I care about, and it knows roughly where I am... This notion of autonomous search—the ability to tell me things I didn't know but am probably very interested in—is the next great stage, in my view, of search."
Google's Hugo Barra then took to the stage to demonstrate Android's "Voice Actions", including voice-dictated text messages, web searches, navigation commands, and music controls. Barra also demonstrated the mobile version of Google Translate, enabling users to type or speak phrases to be instantly translated into one of 50 different languages. He spoke English phrases into his phone, which were then played back over the phone's speaker in German. A German person spoke into the same phone and the phrases were played back in English. The feature is called "Conversation Mode" and will be available as part of Google Translate "within a few months."
Schmidt promised that Google’s TV service, which aims to bring the best of the Web to the television, will go live in the US over the next couple of months, followed by a worldwide rollout starting in 2011. Sony will be launching a Google TV-powered TV as well as a Google TV-powered Blu-ray player, while Logitech will be launching its "Revue" Google TV set top box that will connect to currently available TV sets. The devices' remotes will come with Google TV-specific buttons, and users will also be able to use Android phones or iPhones as Google TV remotes. Users will be able to conduct voice searches using the phones if they don't wish to type. Google TV will also support Android Market in early 2011, bringing “tens of thousands” of apps to the service.
Interestingly, Schmidt played down any suggestion of Google actually becoming a content provider itself: “There’s a line we’ve decided not to cross. We want to work with content providers and get them onto this new platform whether it be Google television, YouTube or the Web. We’re very unlikely to go into actual content production at least in a significant way because we want the content providers to make money.”
On the subject of Android, Schmidt said the operating system is seeing about 200,000 activations a day, with more than 60 devices, 21 OEM partners across 59 carriers and 49 countries supporting the platform. Commenting on his company’s business model behind Android, Schmidt noted: “People who use Android search more. As they search more with a powerful browser, they click on more ads, so we estimate Android already pays for itself. For us Android is precisely strategic because it allows us to create the complete system; the smartphone, to the network, to the super computer. Android is also part of the Google TV platform.”
Finally, Schmidt said that Google would soon be announcing partnerships with several electronics manufacturers who are building tablet-style computers based on Google’s forthcoming Chrome operating system. However, he refused to be drawn on claims that Google is on the verge of launching a music streaming and download service to rival Apple’s iTunes store.
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