Google, Flush with Android Success, Plans New Computing Platform
More than 65,000 smartphones running Google's Android OS are being
shipped each day, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said during an annual
shareholders meeting May 13.
While eyebrow-raising in itself, the figure is up from the 60,000
handsets that Jeff Huber, Google's senior vice president of
engineering, said were being sold and activated each day, during Google's April 15 first-quarter earnings announcement.
If 5,000 additional Android smartphones have begun shipping per day in just the last month, Schmidt added that the estimate was nonetheless modest.
"I'm required to say that our partners are shipping about 65,000 handsets per day, but if you check the blogosphere, you'll discover there are reports that that number might be quite low," he said.
Android's popularity has ratcheted quickly, particularly in the United States. NPD Group reported May 10 that in the first quarter of 2010, Android nabbed the No. 2 OS market share position in the United States, bumping the iPhone OS to number three. BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion holds the No. 1 spot, with 36 percent market share.
Just a year ago, Google started with just one device in one country. Today, said Schmidt, there are "34 devices with 60 carriers in 49 countries and 19 languages. Shows you the power of openness."
Such openness, Schmidt emphasized - with a not-so-subtle dig at Apple - has been a major key to Google's success with Android. Unlike its competitors, Google's strategy has been to license its code for free.
"We're trying to build an entire ecosystem of openness - the inverse of the other guys. Which is very important," Schmidt went on. "So if they say no, we say yes."
Huber, during the April earnings call, likewise emphasized Google's focus on openness.
"Our whole mantra with Android is open. First, the Android OS itself is open for partners to modify and extend on their own. And then the Android market for apps is open for all developers, which is driving a lot of growth and great apps. We're now at over 38,000 apps, up 70 percent quarter over quarter," said Huber. "The net effect is to make Web-ready smartphones more widely available.
Toward that means, both men pointed to what they expect will be Google's next big thing - its Chrome mobile browser.
Huber described Chrome as "growing really well," which he attributes to its technical innovations, performance and security.
Schmidt added more coolly, "If you're not using Chrome, you need to give it a try, because everybody else is now."
While not offering specific numbers for Chrome's growth, beyond describing them as "phenomenal," Schmidt said the figures are such that he expects Chrome "will become a very, very significant browser by the end of the year.
A winning OS and browser may only be the beginning of Google's 2010 success, however. Later this year, the company plans to begin shipping a new hardware architecture from its hardware partners. The architecture will bring together the Chrome browser, a Chrome operating system and an open-source program called Chromium.
"In my opinion," said Schmidt, "it's likely to become a third platform of choice for both consumers and the enterprise." The first two, he clarified, are the PC and Mac platforms.
A new platform hasn't been created in 20 or 25 years. Which, in addition to all the rest, gave Schmidt something, he said, to feel quite proud about.