Eric Schmidt: Google won't thwart Facebook Home

Google's Motorola division is also working on 'phenomenal' new products, Schmidt says

Google won't do anything to thwart Facebook's recently launched Home software for Android devices if it becomes explosively popular, according to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Home, which became available for download April 1, alters Android's look and feel but isn't a full-blown fork of the OS.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Facebook weighs in on Home's privacy implications. | Discover what's new in business applications with InfoWorld's Technology: Applications newsletter. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]

Google would not take negative actions toward Home, such as removing it from the Play app store, Schmidt said Tuesday during an onstage interview at the AllThingsD Dive Into Mobile event in New York.

"It would be counter to our public statements, our religion," he said. "The answer is no. It's called open source. They read the manual, they read the rules and adhered to them."

In addition, Schmidt shot down rumors of souring relations between Google and Samsung, which makes some popular Android devices.

"We spend lots of time with Samsung, and I can confirm for you that the press coverage of tension is not correct," he said. The "Samsung relationship has turned out to be a defining one" for Android, Schmidt added.

Schmidt also discussed a new set of products under development at Google's Motorola Mobility division, which he called "phenomenal." While telling audience members to "wait and see" exactly what Motorola has in the works, Schmidt characterized the products as "phones plus."

While Google's commitment to Android seems unwavering, Schmidt also sang the virtues of HTML5 as a platform for mobile application development. The standard is "very, very fully functional now," he said. "With HTML5, it looks to me like we're there." However, "I don't think you should prematurely merge these things," he added.

There are large industries around Android and iOS and "people are going to continue to build on both platforms," Schmidt said. "The mobile story is [native] apps and web apps now."

At another point, Schmidt discussed Android's ongoing uptake in the market, saying that there are now more than 750 million phones running the OS today, with 1.5 million activations per day. Android should reach 2 billion devices in "a year or two," Schmidt added.

"Our goal is to reach everybody," he said. Expect "phenomenally cheaper" smart phones to emerge, making this possible, he added.

"The core thing that's going on with mobile devices ... is that we're empowering individuals," Schmidt said. "For the overwhelming number of people in the world this is a huge improvement."

Schmidt made the appearance the at AllThingsD event shortly before the release of his book, "The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business," co-written with Google executive Jared Cohen.

The book, which discusses topics such as driverless cars and holographic meetings, "is not the future road map of Google," Schmidt cautioned. "This is a speculation of how technology will involve."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.

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