I was at the “Roads to Innovation” conference at the Stanford business school this weekend. Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google Inc. was the keynote speaker. Of course, he got asked about YouTube acquisition and whether this acquisition is an indication of the return of the bubble. His answer was that Google has figured out how to monetize the web traffic, which makes the YouTube acquisition more based on tangible value. So no bubble!
What I was mostly interested in was his observations about the mobile world. Mr. Schmidt pointed out that there are more than 2 Billion mobile phones in the world and the numbers are growing much faster than those of personal computers are.
Even though there was no specific mention of smartphones, the lines between smartphones and regular cell phones is becoming increasingly thin. The latest generation of smartphone, that I used in the 81-day-experiment such as the BlackBerry Pearl and the Cingular 3125, can be easily mistaken for just another slick cell phone. So it is likely that the smartphones growth is, or will be, paralleling the overall mobile phones growth trend.
Another interesting observation was about the “convergence” of devices. There has always been talk about having one device that does it all—takes care of all your information/communication needs. This talk has been going on forever (in Internet times). Mr. Schmidt did not see this convergence happening. What he indicated is that it is the network and the server that will be providing the “convergence-like” behavior. The network and server (i.e. the Internet and the data centers that are virtual to the users) are enabling multiple devices and applications to sync to the same data stores and therefore providing the user with the freedom and flexibility of accessing their data anywhere/anytime. The user can then use the variety of device and best of breed solution for their mobile needs.