San Francisco — A bunch of us media peeps here at the Web 2.0 Summit had the pleasure of chatting with Google CEO Eric Schmidt after his mysterious non-unveiling of the Nexus S smartphone powered by T-Mobile Nov. 15.
Schmidt waved around the smartphone you see above, which he declined to name.
However, he noted that the device was loaded with Android 2.3 and a chip to enable near field communications, the short range wireless technology that will one day enable users to pay for goods from their smartphones by tapping it on a sales terminal.
Schmidt didn’t actually demo this on a sales terminal, but it was still wicked cool. How did this technology come to be?
Schmidt in a media round robin said an engineering team based in Google’s New York office came to Mountain View, Calif., and gave him a virtual world demo for product search using the chip, which they built “because they thought it was neat.”
Schmidt said he approved because it provides “something that is useful to a person.” There’s no question about that; with the technology, people can swipe or tap to pay, and credit card companies feel safer with NFC.
While Schmidt declined to be baited into trash talking the new Facebook Messages, he did offer up several more nuggets, both during his Q&A and in the preceding keynote with intrepid interviewers John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly.
On Android: Schmidt said that while there are certainly pros and cons to Google’s open-source Android approach and Apple’s closed, protected iPhone ecosystem, he ultimately believed Android was superior for the cloud.
“We would argue that our platform is better for applications that are network-resident and that need that kind of power,” Schmidt said, pointing to solutions that let users speak into a mobile phone and have Google Translate translate the query in the cloud and send it down to the phone.
And by the way, Android 2.3 is coming “in a few weeks.”
On Chrome OS: Chrome OS, that platform to support Google Chrome Web browser on netbooks, is not coming this month or next. Schmidt said to expect it in the next few months, meaning 2011 is the likely timeline.
That’s a shame. I was hoping to play with a Chrome OS netbook for the holidays. But there’s still the Samsung Galaxy Tab to look forward to. Tablets weren’t even in play this time last year when Google unveiled Chrome OS.
On Serendipitous Search: One reporter rightfully grilled Schmidt on the serendipitous search stuff again. He likes to talk about how this could include walking down the street and getting an alert about history stuff from a nearby museum.
He couldn’t stress enough how privacy measures, such as the type of location-based permissions we see in Google Latitude, would play into this. While he declined to name a specific product, he admitted Latitude would likely be paired with autonomous search.
“This is an area of privacy concerns, especially if people are giving up private information without knowing it.”
The earlier keynote spawned some noteworthy comments:
On Google TV: Asked about Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC blocking their Website content from Google TV, Schmidt said Google is sharing data to help persuade broadcasters to embrace the service. Good write-up of this segment here.
On Googlers Becoming Xooglers: Schmidt said media is overplaying the card about Google losing all of its core talent.
“Media stories are fundamentally wrong on that,” Schmidt said. Ouch! “People are dying to come and work here,” he added. That is, until they go to apply and realize it’s harder to survive than a Russian gulag in February.
On AdMob: Google AdMob is registering 1 billion ad impressions a day, which will surely bolster Google’s mobile ad revenues.
All in all, Schmidt had loads of good stuff to say. And we, the misguided, misconstruing media, sucked it up. All of it.