In his Mobile World Congress keynote address, Google CEO Eric Schmidt describes the mobile ecosystem as a confluence of computing power, connectivity and cloud computing, and proclaims a new focus for the industry: putting mobile first.
With the help of two impressive demonstrations of Google Android-based
mobile applications, company CEO Eric
Schmidt addressed a rapt audience at his keynote presentation for the Mobile
World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain,
laying out a vision for the future of mobile computing that could be distilled
into a single phrase: Mobile first.
Schmidt kicked off the address by saying what an honor it was to speak at
the conference, a place where "mobile phones even work in the
elevator." He then read off a flurry of statistics highlighting the growth
of the mobile industry, pointing out within three years sales of smartphones
will surpass sales of PCs. He noted that in developing countries such as India,
Google searches were more likely to be made on a mobile phone than on a desktop
computer; he highlighted the rescue stories from the aftermath of the Haitian
earthquake and called the mobile technology that enabled some of them
fundamental to the human existence. "This is all part of the same view
that information is fundamental, and the joint view that mobile communication
is 'it,'" he said.
In Schmidt's view, he explained, the current mobile ecosystem and its future
incarnation are the result of three intertwining factors: computing power,
connectivity and cloud computing. "The Internet is humongous. The notion
of publishing and microblogging is an explosion that will drive networks further
into everything we do," he said. "Today's generation doesn't call it
a mobile phone; they call it a phone. That's a win for everybody sitting
The mobile phone is the meeting point of these three trends, he said, and
furthermore, any device that is not connecting in this way is considered not
interesting, but lonely. As the mobile phone is the high-volume end point of
these trends, it becomes the defining product in that space, he said.
"It's like magic," he said. "All of a sudden there are things
you can do you never even believed were possible."
This led to his belief in the "mobile first" doctrine, as Google
programmers are doing work on mobile applications and technology first, because
"mobile apps are better apps" and that's what top programmers want to
develop. "It's more specific, more human, more location-aware, more
satisfying to them," Schmidt said.
The first of the two presentations concerned Google voice search, which
allows users to look up Spanish restaurants in Los Angeles,
for example, or a nightclub in Berlin.
Perhaps more impressively, a translation demonstration followed that showed a
German-language menu translated perfectly into English after a photo of it was
taken with a phone's camera.
The second presentation showed uses of Adobe's Flash technology, from watching
movie trailers online to more educational and informative functions, such as
zooming Google Earth in on the destruction in Haiti's capital,
Port-au-Prince-specifically the shattered Presidential Palace and refugee camps
nearby. Later the voice search function was used inside the Google Earth application
to "fly" to Mt. Fuji
in Japan, where
the application's three-dimensional graphics capability was put on impressive
"The basic message is pretty simple. The confluence of these three
factors (computing, connectivity and the cloud) means your phone is your alter ego,
an extension of everything we do," Schmidt concluded. "Here, right
now, we understand the new rule is 'mobile first' in everything. Perhaps the
phrase should be 'mobile first' simply because it's time to be proud of what we
have built together. Our job is to make mobile be the answer to
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.