Google’s Eric Schmidt today called for the technology community to build-out connectivity to the estimated 5 billion of the world’s population who had “never done a Google search” – while at the same time announcing plans to bring the firm’s Chrome and Android units closer together.
In his third visit to Congress in as many years, Google’s executive chairman warned that a new digital divide will emerge if the opportunities and freedoms offered by the Internet were not extended to all. He claimed a new technological “middle class” is emerging that will play “a decisive role in changing society.”
This will be underpinned by a “universal smartphone revolution,” Schmidt said, as Moore’s Law drives down prices, “A mobile experience at least at the level of today will be available to almost everybody, at a fraction of the price. In 12 years, handsets are going to be 20 times faster, which means phones that cost US$400 now will be available for US$20. If Google gets this right, there will be an Android in every pocket. At our current growth rate, this is possible.”
But Schmidt warned that his vision was at risk from censorship and over-regulation, noting that Google’s products are blocked “in about 25” of the 125 countries where it operates. “Today 40 countries engage in online censorship in some form, up from just four a decade ago,” he said. “Even in the US we have seen worrying legislative and regulatory proposals in recent months.”
Google’s Hugo Barra had earlier given a live demo of ‘Chrome App for Android,’ which he described as a “product that brings together for the first time these two technology worlds.” Using the browser on a Galaxy Nexus smartphone, he showed-off new pre-caching techniques, horizontal and vertical tab scrolling, navigation synching with desktop Chrome, and linking previews to aid navigation. “We got the UI right in Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) and you can see the benefits when you marry the Chrome on top of that UI,” added Schmidt.