Google's Eric Schmidt on Facebook Home: 'It took some guts to do it, on our part'

Google's Eric Schmidt on Facebook Home: 'It took some guts to do it, on our part'

Summary: Plus more, from the executive chairman's appearance at the D: Dive Into Mobile event in New York.

TOPICS: Mobility, Google

This morning, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt sat down with AllThingsD's Ina Fried and Liz Gannes to discuss the company's Android mobile operating system, its relationship with hardware partners, its work in developing markets and what's just around the bend, technologically speaking.

Oh, and that whole Facebook Home announcement made by the social network.

The occasion? The "D: Dive Into Mobile" event, held in New York City.

The trio's conversation took various turns; here are the highlights.

1.) There are 750 million Android phones in use globally, on 320 carriers, in 160 countries, running some 700,000 Play apps. "We'll cross a billion in the next six to nine months and we'll be nearing two billion in the next year or two," Schmidt said, adding: "Android is the primary vehicle by which people will see smartphones."

2.) The big news is not what's happening to those of us who are connected, but to the people that are not, Schmidt said. "Our goal is to reach everybody," including the bottom of the market. "Those devices today, in two years they're cheaper, in four years they are phenomenally cheaper."

3.) "A relatively good smartphone with a browser is what you need to access the world's information," Schmidt said. "Nobody uses a phone by themselves anymore," but rather a browser or interface that connects to a back-end of supercomputers that do all the heavy lifting.

3.) In a brief tangent on the privacy of connected health devices: "It's the definition of opt-in" when you take a connected pill. "It's much much cheaper, much more preventive."

4.) "The rate at which our bandwidth is increasing is significantly more than the developing world. But in the developing world, to go from no bandwidth to some bandwidth is historic."

5.) "Humans are naturally optimistic and clever." Google employees are "accused of being techno-optimists…the truth about technology is that it's relatively neutral with an empowerment bias." 

6.) On Google's position on personal privacy: "Google has a responsibility, which we take very seriously, to keep your data secure," and "You have a responsibility to keep your passwords secure, understand what people are doing on your computer, not install malware, et cetera." He said, forcefully: "We are careful when we use your information and we tell you that."


7.) On Facebook Home, the mobile venture built atop Android: "I think it's fantastic. This is what open source is about. Open source means open source. It's wonderful -- experimentation, new ideas, creativity." He added, in an attempt to address reports about a potential conflict down the road"Frankly, it took some guts to do it, on our part." 

8.) Later, when pressed about the possibility of Google blocking Facebook Home, Schmidt appeared somewhat indignant and defensive, his feathers ruffled. "The answer is no," he said dismissively. "We're phenomenally happy when people are extending Android in a number of ways. It's called open source. You can't have half open source." He said Facebook "read the rules and they followed them," and added that the company "made a very important point to make it completely applications compatible."

9.) On native apps versus web apps: "This browser versus apps debate is something that we've lived with for 15 years…with HTML5, it looks to me like we're there." He added: "I don't think you should prematurely merge these things, and we're going to continue with both for that reason."

10.) When asked about the combining of the Android, Chrome teams within Google: "You don't want to let organizational design describe product design. You want to build outstanding products. The two are not related." This is where it went wrong at Sun, Schmidt added.

11.) On Google Glass: "For me, the experience was not the screen. It's the fact that you can talk to it, and it will talk to you…for me it was a lightbulb moment that the voice recognition was good enough that you could talk to these things."

12.) "Our job is to put these platforms out there, to bring the technology forward," Schmidt said. "We don't know" what the implications are.

13.) Gannes asked Schmidt how soon it would be before wearing a device like Google Glass on your face will be considered normal. He responded, "At Google, it already is."


14.) On Motorola's place within the Google empire: "They have a new set of products, which I have seen, that are phenomenal," he said. "They're in a tough market…wait and see with this next generation of technology." When pressed for details, he said, "Think of it as 'phones plus.' "

15.) On Google's driverless car trials: "What is the great source of death in America today? It's car accidents…you realize how profoundly bad [it is to have] people driving cars versus computers driving cars."

16.) "The digitization of everything means the availability of knowledge at your fingertips to solve every known problem."

17.) On reports of tension between Google and Android partner Samsung: "The press reports about 'tension' are not correct…the value and the profits to them are very high." He added: "The Samsung relationship has turned out to be a defining one" because of that company's early bet on Google's mobile platform.

18.) On the Apple Maps kerfuffle, Schmidt said that Google told Apple that it would really like the company to use its Maps application, and they chose not to, and that Google would still like Apple to use it moving forward.

19.) On the connected home: "Android is now showing up everywhere: printers, televisions, things like that. The sort of core idea is think about peer-wise self-configuring. When a device comes into a local network, you want it to self-configure." For example, you walk into your room, it realizes that you want your text messages on your phone to show up on your TV -- or not. "We can do that now. Android is powerful enough. Almost everything we use now has a computer in it of some kind. We're never more than six inches from an integrated circuit."

20.) On the evolution of the smartphone as an object and the possibility of a smart watch: "We evolved to sort of this thin glass plate because the primary driver was sort of that big screen. The screens are getting to the point where the sort of visual density is eye-perfect. There's not a lot more we can do...Will the watch be powerful enough that you can replace your phone?" It would need to be powerful enough to speak to, like Glass, like a Dick Tracy watch, he said.

21.) Finally, on Health IT: Most conversation has been around cost structure, billing, automatizing, Schmidt said. "For people like myself, that looks like an IT problem." But "there's a much larger explosion that's going to be happening" around device monitoring: dongles, skin patches, et cetera. "The phone then becomes the staging area for real-time information, in both [directions]," he said.

Topics: Mobility, Google

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • Solving every known problem ...

    "16.) The digitization of everything means the availability of knowledge at your fingertips to solve every known problem."

    William Shatner has said straight out that the reason "the Borg" characters were created for the NextGen series was that a lot of people complained, "You're saying that technology will solve ALL mankind's problems! That's absurd!"
    • Glad you quoted the whole answer.

      Big difference between "availability of knowledge" for "every known problem" and solving ALL mankind's problems. This is the difference between Knowledge and wisdom ....grasshopper. In truth is mankind only knows of a very very small set of problems. I also think he is referring to Mathematical definition of "problem" which should have a solution when most people will interpret it as the more general "problem" definition of a question proposed for solution or discussion.
  • A creepy man

    Working for a creepy company.
    "We are careful when we USE YOUR Information, and we TELL you that"
    Google is the first company that can get and use your data, even when you don't use any of their "products".
    With the Google free product graveyard growing larger by the day, they must have decided they need to make all products revenue generating and focus more on getting every bit of personal information on every person they can.
    Sorry Google, I'll never use anything that you've created or had a hand in creating.
    Google is the epitome of EVIL.
    • I'm happy to tell you ...

      ... I'm quite certain they don't WANT _your_ data.
      • dahoochmeister

        So Google would not be interested in my data said so?
        I do a large percentage of my shopping online and am just a large $ to Scroogle.

        On the other hand, even as evil is Google is, I'm sure they don't care that much (Eric Schmuck might ) about your non-purchase based 24/7 online activity.
    • You forgot MS takes your information

      whether you want to give it or not.
      • Jessepollard, can you give one example?

        Where MS steals your data? Bing does not use any of your personal information and does not sell internet search hits to the highest bidder.
        MSFT has never driven around with Microsoft Cars stealing and collecting Wi-Fi data.
        Google will take your data even if you dont' use Google search or any Google products because it's very difficult if not impossible to use the internet without your information crossing their properties. They pretty much own the internet.
        And they DO take your data whether you want them to or now. Proof? Sure, just re-read this article and see where Eric Schmuck tells you they do.
        • Just read the terms of service for Hotmail/

          Scanning, use of any attachments, personalizing ads ... the whole shebang.
          Pretty well the same as Google. And Yahoo. etc. etc.

          Paranoia runs rampant.
          • radleym, I should have added "without opting in"

            Google takes your data w/o any terms of service. They just take it and use it at their whim and will.
            Much like their driving around stealing wifi data until they were got with their pants down, then they claimed it was "accidental"
            If you believe that, i've got a bridge in brooklyn you might interested in.
        • Also ...

          The only reason we know that Google accidentally accumulated data from open routers (who leaves their router open, anyway), or that some employees were looking at personal email, is because Google freely admitted it and apologized. The only reason we know that they collect data for targeted advertising is because they admitted it when they started doing it. Contrast to Apple, Microsoft etc. We have no idea what they are doing to collect and use your data, because, unless you read the TOS and can infer from that, you will never know. Apple and Microsoft are very secretive, while Google is very open. From this open policy, paranoid idiots assume they are collecting and selling your personal data, when there is no evidence whatsoever.
          Again, just because Microssoft, Apple et al are silent on the subject, doesn't mean they are innocent. I'm much more afraid of what they are doing behind my back than what Google is doing right in front of me.
          • @radleym

            I agree that Google admitted all those things you mentioned. But when it admitted them? When no one has any knowledge about their doings or after being found out?

            Innocent until proven guilty is just the same as that of Acknowledgement after proven guilty.
          • radleym,

            MSFT is VERY open about what data they will and will not use. And they will NOT sell search results, as it should be on a search engine that should be selecting it's hits based on relevance to your search terms and not who paid them the most money to paste their ads on top. Scroogle is getting so bad the first hits from them anymore are not even always related to the search, it's just new ad placement. That is just plain wrong, no matter if they are doing it front of you or not, which has nothing to do with it.
            Speaking of that, where is this open and up front statement from Google about what they do and don't do, in plain simple terms anyway? Where did you see it and read it cause I'd like to see it.
            Scroogle doesn't tel you everything and you are completely naive if you think they do.
            You can't find out for certain how long Scroogle holds and uses your data, but I think it's obvious if you cross their properties, you are subject to your data being taken, used and becoming property of Scroogle.
            If you call that better than needing to use a product that states it's terms, before your data can be used, feel free, but I think you are just Scroogle biased.
            In the past, if MSFT or APPLE or anyone would have just taken your data w/o any use of a product or tems and conditions applied there would have been a firestorm of outrage here.
            Scroogle gets away with it because the naive ABM crowd thinks Google is their "friend" and they use open source which makes them somehow better?
            Yeah, ok. Again, i'd like to show you that bridge. I'm practically giving it away.
  • I see a lot of Claim Chowder for Gruber.

    I'm still waiting for GoogleTV to be installed on most shipping TVs.
    • I like it

      I have the older Sony BD Google TV box and I like it. The interface is cool and it links to Amazon, Play Movies, Netflix, and Flixster nicely so pretty much any TV show or Movie is at my fingertips.

      I also like how it controls and better organizes my cable experience as well as streaming from YouTube and DLNA devices in my house.

      Google TV is what others wish they had.