During a discussion with LeWeb founder Loic Le Meur at the conference today, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt shrugged off suggestions that Android still lags behind Apple’s iOS.
Making some bold predictions about the company’s future products, he also suggested that Google TV will be embedded in the majority of televisions by next summer.
There’s no doubt that connected TVs will become more common in 2012, and just last week we covered Microsoft’s relaunch of Xbox LIVE as an all-in-one entertainment hub. But Samsung, Sony and Apple have also launched competitive devices, so Schmidt’s claim of market dominance may be a little premature.
The keynote began with a demo of Android’s new Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) operating platform, including new features such as facial-recognition security and widgets that can be customised by the user.
Schmidt said smartphones had moved too far towards being computers, so the ICS places emphasis on communication with a new ‘People’ app to help better organise their social contacts.
The demo also showed off ICS’s NFC technology, which allows users to share content and apps by touching their phones together.
Despite the demo, questions from Le Meur and the audience queried how Android would overcome iOS’s lead. His response was clear.
Android is ahead of iOS already. In terms of unit volume, new ICS features, prices are lower, with more vendors, more pricepoints – do I need to continue the list?”
Schmidt also suggested that in six months Android will have overtaken iOS as the developers’ platform of choice.
Apple has done an excellent job with iOS in terms of usability – but in six months thanks to ICS you will say the opposite, because apps vendors are driven by volume. The volume is favoured by the open approach Google is taking.”
But despite this bullish talk about competition with Apple, Schmidt conceded that when it comes to social networks, Google+ probably won’t be able knock Facebook off its perch.
He cited the Arab Spring as an example that there is room for more than one social network, stating that protestors used Facebook to organise the protests, Twitter to get people out and YouTube to film the protests.
We’re better off trying to find something new, rather than competing directly. That’s what we’re trying to do with Google.”