May 19th, 2011
09:09 AM ET

Eric Schmidt on Android vs iPad

There's a good chance that you either have a tablet - one of those computing devices that's larger than a cell phone but much smaller than the laptop - or you thought about buying one. And when you look at the shelves, you have many options. Apple's iPad has 80 percent of the market right now, but there's also Samsung and Motorola, RIM, HTC and many more.

Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt says this isn't just a brand war. It's a war of ideas and a war for the future. I sat down with Schmidt for a special we're working on about innovation, which will  air on June 5th at 8pm ET/PT.

Schmidt has more than a bit of a bias with Google's products but his insights into the future of technology are nonetheless absolutely fascinating. Here's a transcript of my interview with him:
ZAKARIA: You have Apple coming out with this extremely elegant iPad that everyone's in love with. But it requires that you follow Apple's rules and all the restrictions that it places. No Flash and no Windows being the most prominent. And now you have Android providing a kind of open platform.  Obviously, as the head of Google you're going to tell me Android is going to win. But tell me something about this contest.

SCHMIDT: It's a classic contest in high-tech. And in that contest, you have a very well-run, very focused, closed competitor who builds a great product that does something that's very useful. That will be Apple.

You have another competitor who makes all the technology available to everybody else and using creativity and various partnerships and so forth gets the benefit of everyone else's creativity.

Because there are more people involved in the open side of that - that side will eventually get more volume, have more investment, therefore have more creativity and more innovation. Ultimately, the end user will choose the open one over the closed one.

ZAKARIA: Except right now all these tablets that are Android based are, let's be honest, not as good as the iPad and they're more expensive, which strikes me as unusual.

SCHMIDT: But which approach will produce a lower product quicker? One manufacturer for a product or many manufacturers competing? The fact of the matter is we're just at the beginning of this fight. And the fight between two very well-run, very large, very significant ecosystem companies will ultimately produce great value to consumers because the fight between them will keep prices low, keep the systems honest and open and encourage the kind of investment that people want to see.

One of the greatest things about this contest is that the people who win in this are the consumers.

ZAKARIA: But you imagine that this will end up very much like the PC market where Apple had this very elegant product that many people thought was perhaps better, but because it stayed closed it ended up being a boutique product and yours will be open, much larger, with many more users and many more applications.

SCHMIDT: There's pride in both approaches, but they're completely different. In Apple's case, they can continue to build beautiful and excellent products. The ecosystem that Google represents will continue and already has more volume, more users and will have more investment in the platform. Ultimately that will produce cheaper, better and faster products for everybody.

ZAKARIA: Is cloud computing also part of this future and that the actual device does not need to be that powerful because you can connect into the cloud?

SCHMIDT: As an experiment, turn off all of your devices and disconnect from the Internet for six or seven hours. You realize how dependent you have become on it. Not just for communication but for your services, to buy movie tickets or what have you.

The architecture of the Internet is now turning to this thing which we all call cloud computing. Cloud meaning the information is out there in the clouds somewhere and you just pick up a device, turn it on and it's there.

The new generation of devices from Google and others, you'll be able to just pick them up, log in and then just give it to somebody else, log off and it will erase your information and so forth. All of a sudden the device has become disposable. All of a sudden, when you drop or you lose or you break your computer, you wouldn't lose everything, because it's stored in the cloud.

ZAKARIA: You once said to me mobile phones will be 100 times more powerful than they are in 10 years. That sounds difficult to imagine.

SCHMIDT: Well, think about mobile phones a decade ago and you can see that it is 100 times faster today than it was 10 years ago. How quickly we forget the primitive world that we lived in 10 – 15 years ago.

The fact of the matter is that the future is mobile computing that people will carry any number of devices connects to the clouds. And those devices will provide some varying services. Today, your phone knows who you are, where you are, where you're going to some degree because it you can see your path. And with that, and with your permission, it's possible for software and software developers to predict where you are going to go, to suggest people you should meet, to suggest activities and so forth.

So ultimately, what happens is the mobile phone does what it does best, which is remember everything and makes suggestions and then you can be just a better human and have a good time.

ZAKARIA: What will the world of technology look like 10 years from now?

SCHMIDT: It's hard to predict 10 years. But we do know that the devices will be so much faster and so much more useful. The real revolution is in the applications.

There's a new standard in the Internet called HTML 5 which everyone is adopting, which means that web applications will run on all of these devices in a very powerful way. They have very complex and powerful games that people will spend their time on - a whole new generation of social activities of one kind or another.

But to me the most interesting things about what computers will do will be allowing us to have more fun, to have richer lives, to think about new ideas. The computer will suggest things that you might be interested in.

Since I'm a history buff, if I'm walking down here in the street, it will tell me the history of the area. It will tell me that something that I might be interested in.

All of a sudden, that augmentation of my human experience is really a wow moment every – every hour.

ZAKARIA: And of course, after a while we'll take it for granted and we wouldn't imagine life whatever without it.

SCHMIDT: And just like your children have always grown up with cell phones, the next generation of children will grow up with this ubiquitous network of intelligence around them. And they'll take it for granted and they'll wonder how you actually operated without knowing all this all al the time? How did you determine where to meet somebody?

ZAKARIA: So should we be teaching the way we are teaching now with intelligence all around? Do we need to be drumming facts into people's heads with spell check all around? Do we need to be teaching them spending hours and hours teaching children how to spell?

SCHMIDT: There's a lot of evidence that the next generation of teachers will use computers much more interrelated in the classroom - that an awful lot of learning is better when self-paced and when it's targeted to the students.

So if you can come up with teaching programs where there are tests and appropriate metrics and then the students with appropriate incentives can keep going, there's a lot of evidence that people learn best in these multiplayer games where all of a sudden audio and visual cues and contests and prizes, people move very quickly through those and they learn enormous amount.

People were very concerned when games came along that another generation of people would be stupefied. But somehow the testing indicates that the navigational aspects and the role playing aspects of these games and that improves cognition, improves their ability to reason even though you look at it and say how could that be. It looks like they're very good for people.

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Topics: Ideas • Innovation • Internet • Technology

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Henry Eaton

    Sorry. I posted this in the wrong place the other day. It should probably be here.

    A comment on Eric Schmidt's description of his Google vs. Apple, open vs. closed system. He correctly makes the point that innovation and capital will flow to the open system, but what he failed to describe was the best approach to get the open system in the long term. When designing different versions of Android, Google does so in a closed environment. They don't ask hundreds of outside developers to build their operating system. What they do is ask outside developers to create apps for their open system. Apple does the same thing. The difference is that Google allows hardware companies to load/integrate their software on various devices. Apple does not. Apple believes that it is more important for the consumer to have a seamlessly integrated hardware/software device to ensure a better, less buggy, more optimized device. In the long term, there is nothing to prevent Apple from allowing outside hardware companies to utilize their OS, but by controlling the hardware/software integration in the near and medium term they can create a more stable better experience; as Schmidt says, "they build good products". Both companies know that the open system will prevail, but their philosophies differ in how to get there. As a past director of Apple, Schmidt is well aware of this, but chose to frame the discussion to his and Google's advantage.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Reply
    • Vlad G

      Android is open, source code is freely available, no Google's or anyone else permission is required to use it. Apple iOS is closed in all meanings of the word. No source, no permission to use. So what is similar in Google vs Apple approach besides that 100% fantasy that Apple suddenly allows to install iOS elsewhere?

      May 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Reply
      • Dave F

        Let's not forget that Apple can maintain a quality product unlike the Adroid 'mish-mash' of products that are so glitchy that they should have never left beta testing. Android is NOT ready for prime time – still. I left the Droid train-wreck of devices and went to Apple – now I have peace of mind that everything actually works. I personally like most open-source devices but Apple is under no obligation to have their equipment spread-eagle like Android. Think about it – the devices Apple makes actually work, and work good, so do you care that its not open-source? Lets get real.

        May 19, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
      • McD

        But what's the actual, demonstrable advantage of openness to the consumer? All I hear is talk of innovation, a whole lot of copying apple, loads of software & hardware mistakes and the tokenistic lucky guess with a website.

        May 21, 2011 at 1:29 am |
  2. SunnyGuy53

    What do you by "no Windows"? Is Android Windows either? No.
    Anyway, that's not a restriction, that's freedom.

    You might as well complain that your car's not compatible with a horse, because it doesn't poop on the road.

    And in what way is Android more "open" than Apples iOS? Answer: it's not in any meanful way. These people just need something to whine about. Creative people have been using Macs for years; and now thry use iPhones and iPads as well.

    What's so hard to understand?

    Btw, Android does remind me of Windows in that it's a cheap, mediocre imitation of the real McCoy (Apple product).

    Sunny Guy

    May 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      The 'creative' Apple user is a total myth, and you know it. The average iPhone user is about as low-tech as you can get. They think they are technically savvy because they have a shiny phone with a slick interface. In reality, they are about as technically illiterate as they come. Apple's marketing department has convinced them that their locked-down silo'ed system is a good thing.

      May 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Reply
      • kato

        I guess you know this because you know ran a poll or did some research on iphone users. Nope you are just stating your opinion. I happen to own an iPhone and create tweaks, mods, and 3rd party apps. Why do some of you just go right ahead and assume because someone likes an iphone that makes them low-tech. Why cant it just be thats the phone they preferred. Youre so into your own feelings you feel like everyone should think like you. Well guess what, It may come as a surprise to you that not everyone does. I hope that doesnt damage your obvious ego.

        May 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
      • John

        Agreed Bob. Being in IT, I can tell you that the majority of Mac users are techidiots, even about the very products they use. Like you said, it's about the seductive smoothness of the interface and the shiny slick presentation. However when you get down to the nitty gritty, that's where they fall short.

        May 19, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
      • The windows broken, but the apples rotting

        John- would you rather have a clumsy interface with fumbling clunky controls that feels odd and has no style? Stick with windows then, idiot! Free crash with every click.

        Lets face it, a larger majority of Apple users today where windows users last decade. What happened you die hards ask? A superior product with a superior user experience happened.

        Apple- stop being Nazi's a figure out a way to let users view flash on web pages. Your beef is flash as a developing tool, so stop making your users have browser dead ends on the net and these type of debates wouldn't be an issue.

        May 20, 2011 at 6:38 am |
      • Sgt Brown

        See Bob you are not understanding what I think Sunny is trying to say. Apple useres have been for years the more creative type than those that use other tech stuff and I don't think he means it in a "Computer Geek" type way he is saying creative as in those that create music, movies and do pro photography. I have been into music production since the late 90's and have only used Apple so have all my Pro Dj friends and a number of Photographers I have crossed paths with. Apple fans are not computer geeks we just want our stuff to work and work well and they have yet to dissapoint me.

        May 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • not sunny guy

      Creative people are not the only people using macs, u idiot. There might be, just might be creative people using windows,droid,or other than Macs. Apple could label some donkey poop with their logo & you would buy it because you think it makes you "Creative".

      May 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Reply
      • Sgt Brown

        See once again someone making a silly comment about Apple and all it does is make you look stupid. "Apple could place there logo on poop and we would buy it" that is just stupid! So I guess the iPhone and iPad are terrible devices that no one could ever enjoy using or find any use for? I have several Apple products and guess what they are not even close to any type of "poop" so when Apple finally makes something that in your words is like "poop" and you see me buying it than you can repost your comment. I have yet to hear someone pro Apple make silly comments like that towards Droid users and yet we are the ones that are labeled a$$holes. I work with 12 people in an office and only 2 of us have iPhone 4's, there is 1 Blackberry and the rest have a Droid something or nother and guess who are the only two people that have yet to have a problem with there phones???? You got it its the two with iPhone 4's I love my closed system that works soooooooooooo well.

        May 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • toby

      actually, android has not only caught up with allmighty Apple, they have surpassed them. All android needs to do is continue to improve and work on their brand. Apple's dream customer. I have 2 macs, and bought iphones for myself and the significant other. Even I see the value in the android platform. Its better and moving way faster.

      May 20, 2011 at 1:42 am | Reply
  3. Nahdhjdsme*

    You guys fighting are too funny

    May 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Reply
    • goldha

      Amen. Smart guys use Apple products. Other smart guys use Android and Windows, etc. Dumb guys, ditto. I've been watching this "Mine is better than yours, you idiot" vitriol for two decades now, give or take, and it never changes. Use what you want. In the end you will likely be your only limiting factor, not your iMac or your Windows PC. What a joke.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Reply
  4. Rob

    Many people buy Apple products because of the name. Yes they make excellent products but the fact of the matter is that its a fashion piece to many.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Reply
    • LOLz

      Classic hater. You obviously haven't used an iAnything. I don't even own an iPhone or iPad – but can already tell that you have no clue what you're talking about.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:41 am | Reply
  5. Dropping Loads

    Apple = Fruit
    Don't Be A Fruit

    May 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Reply
    • LOLz

      Yer mum.

      May 24, 2011 at 11:49 am | Reply
  6. MikelB2010

    Just read an article stating that 90% of well-educated professionals picking iOS devices over Android.

    May 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Reply
    • John

      I know many 'well educated" professionals who can't find the power button on their computers. Most of our clients are well educated. It really doesn't mean anything. One thing I've learned over the years is being book smart doesn't necessarily equate to being tech savvy or having common sense.

      May 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Reply
      • The windows broken, but the apples rotting

        Once again, JOHN blathering away. I'm smart, your dumb. I'm right, you're wrong. Shouldn't you be off at a teaparty somewhere, or did you quit politics last night to become a tech knowitall this morning?

        May 20, 2011 at 6:45 am |
  7. sean

    Icky with the comments. the point of the interview was strong. The obvious reference was ibm v apple in computer manufacture in the 80s. Apple didn't allow clones. Ibm did. Thus the market was formed. The same is happening in the mobile market, and the results appear to show that already. More android devices owned by consumers. Apple probably won't be the leader in the mobile market, and that is ok.

    May 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Reply
    • Psymac

      It's ok for Apple because as of now, they have 5% of smartphone market share and 55% of the profits.

      May 19, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Reply
      • Morgan

        Actually, Apple only has 16.8% of the market share. Up from 15% last year.

        Android has 36% share. Up from 9.6% from last year.

        May 20, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  8. Jason

    Some people like purple ties. Some people like yellow ties. Get a life guys. There's no reason to judge people on what phone or computer they buy. Aren't there more pressing issues or are gadgets all you care about?

    May 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  9. Dahlal

    I agree I don't understand why people are arguing so much over this its a matter of personal preference android and apple both have quality phones and quality operating systems so what if android can do this and apple can't everything has its defects

    May 19, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Reply
  10. Ayn rand

    If u have ever read the fountainhead, you will understand why apple, the closed and controlling entity led by steve jobs, will beat out the competitors....those second handers

    May 19, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Reply
  11. JM

    I keep running into things online, especially with work, that my iPad and iPhone cannot handle. Yet, when I try the same task on my Android phone I am able to complete it. I love the iPad for its simplicity and reliability and battery life. I love my Android devices because it is rare that I end up unable to proceed with what I'm doing do to an odd limitation, which is reasonably common with iOS.

    May 19, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Reply
  12. Blago2012

    I am app developer for Android. It is easy to deal with Android. Android has now almost as many apps as Iphone. I am putting Windows Phone as next on my list to expand, not Iphone. This is due to recent purchase of Skype

    May 20, 2011 at 12:17 am | Reply
  13. android developer

    I love this article and the comments made.

    But I am compelled to make a comment that has not been addressed.

    It is not just the intense competition for high skilled developers that is in question.

    There are many hobbyists that didn't get a phd in computer science that will be making discreet and unsung contributions to the tech world.

    Apple does have a disadcantage with that group because of the restrictions.

    Android definitely attracts hobbyists who don't need the glory and want the freedom of open source.

    Open source does take patience and dilligence but those are qualities that are expected from the disciplined and enterprising developer.

    I myself lean towards open source. I want as much access to the big picture and do not find advantages in a closed circuit workspace environment.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:32 am | Reply
  14. d evans

    Tone down the geek fight. The simple matter is both are good systems, both have techjunkies that use them and both have techidiots that use them. Your debating Matise vs. Picasso. Both are great and have revolutionized the way we live our lives. Let it be to each their own and by done with it.

    May 20, 2011 at 2:38 am | Reply
  15. Rob in SC

    I am still using my out-of-date, original iPhone 4GB while reading this article. I want a new phone- really.... But my phone is perfect. Maybe in another five years there will be a phone that will be more reliable than my close-minded O.G. Apple phone.

    May 20, 2011 at 4:29 am | Reply
  16. Derek

    Stopped taking this interview seriously when the interviewer said a limitation of iOS was that it couldn't run Windows, but then proceeded to say how open and free Android is.

    It's obvious she has no clue about how these things work.

    May 20, 2011 at 7:16 am | Reply
    • sean

      hahaha! You just called fareed zakaria a girl!

      May 20, 2011 at 7:46 am | Reply
      • Derek

        It was early morning and I was very sleepy. :p

        May 20, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  17. Eric

    IPhone has an order of magnitude more apps than Android. iPhone app revenue is over $1 billion a year. Android app revenue is 50 million a year. Nobody is writing Andoid apps because as a developer you can't make money on them. I have my app on both platforms. I've mafe 350x more on my iPhone app than my Android app.

    May 20, 2011 at 9:05 am | Reply
    • Leo

      you may be correct about revenue being an order of magnitude higher, but iPad/iPhone apps are only slightly more than Google Android apps and it won't be that way for long...

      May 22, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Reply
  18. InDeepThought

    If the forecast is right... in 10 years we will practically be walking around with a Library of Alexandria in our hands. I think you will find people bouncing more often than not between two worlds; the first flooded with information and knowledge and the second with those who yearn for silence (processing time... if you will).

    May 24, 2011 at 2:21 am | Reply
  19. LOLz

    Android OS is not open source, Google has put a gag on release of source code until further notice, yes? What's open about that? They've admitted it isn't "open" per se. Pick up an android, then pick up an i{something} and look at the practical uses and available software. Then look at the developers' revenues (those who program for the platform). Give us one reason, other than for being unable to publish analytics/spyware apps, that a developer wouldn't want to publish for i{whatever}. Look at the tons of apps from reputable companies on the platform! Android is amateur hour.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:45 am | Reply
  20. LOLz

    Don't know what kind of invitation you need, but iOS is free to develop for – you can write AdHoc apps or ones that go to the App Store. AdHoc apps are installable from places other than apple's app store, and AdHoc hasn't anything to do with jailbreak perks at all. So why the whining? You get a full development environment and simulator for free in Xcode. These Android freetards have no idea what they're talking about.

    May 24, 2011 at 11:48 am | Reply
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