Home opinion-and-analysis Cornered! Google CEO previews mobile goodies, announces primacy of mobile
In his keynote speech at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, said that mobile was not the first platform for which Google developed any new application, and he staged impressive demonstrations of voice search, image search, and language translation combined with optical character recognition.

However to me what Google's showmanship did most powerfully was to give new impetus the message that demand for mobile data bandwidth and its underlying resource - spectrum - will soar, along with the demand for processing power in the cloud.

Schmidt's message was that the driver is the confluence of powerful devices connected to much more powerful 'cloud' servers to deliver "things you can do that never occurred to you as being possible."

A prime example is the possibility of real time translation of the spoken word. As Schmidt pointed out, voice recognition has been around on mobile devices for several years, but new cloud-based variants are far superior. "You send the voice files into the cloud and they are processed in our case by hundreds of thousands of computers in parallel...to get an answer that is remarkably accurate."

Google has been offering voice search for about a year, and announced that it had added a fourth language to the English, Japanese and Mandarin and already available.

Google already provides translation of text to and from 100 languages and demonstrated combined optical character recognition and language translation.

According to Schmidt, the next stage is to recognise and translate the spoken word, in near real time. "We are not quite there yet, but it is coming," he said.


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Speech, digitised is not a big user of bandwidth, but how much processing power 'in the cloud' would Google need to support such an application, which would undoubtedly prove extremely popular, at the right price. Translation of written  text - menus, travel information, signage etc would likely prove even more popular.

And Schmidt made it very clear that developing apps for Mobile devices is now top priority at Google, under the banner 'Mobile First'

"Now our programmers are doing work on mobile first. Every product announcement we have done recently [has been available first on a mobile device]. Of course we will have a desktop version but we will have one all the mobile phone browser; all of which are coming together.

"The top programmers all want to work on [the new smart] phones because there is something they cannot get on a desktop. It is more specific, it is more human, it is more location aware more dynamic more personal. It is more satisfying for them.

According to Schmidt, no matter how powerful the device or the applications, stand-alone just one cut it. "If a device is not connected is not interesting...An application that does not leverage the power of the cloud won't wow anybody."

It was he said, smart mobile devices combined with "The scale and computational power of the data servers that Google and others have behind them."

Which clearly shows why it was so important for Google to develop its own mobile device platform, Android, and its performance in just over two years since launch is impressive.

Schmidt said. "We are now shipping more than 65,000 Android devices per day and that number has doubled in the last quarter... We have more than 65 partners with 26 devices with 59 operators in 19 languages on sale in 48 countries."


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Stuart Corner


Tracking the telecoms industry since 1989, Stuart has been awarded Journalist Of The Year by the Australian Telecommunications Users Group (twice) and by the Service Providers Action Network. In 2010 he received the 'Kester' lifetime achievement award in the Consensus IT Writers Awards and was made a Lifetime Member of the Telecommunications Society of Australia. He was born in the UK, came to Australia in 1980 and has been here ever since.






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