Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt today said the day was not far off when a basic smartphone with a web browser and web-client apps would be available in the market at a price of around $50 (approximately Rs 2,700 at today’s exchange rate).
At a meeting with journalists here on Wednesday during his visit to India, Schmidt declined to reveal any further details on the stage of developing such a basic smartphone model, although he admitted that Google was always encouraging phone makers to produce cheaper sets with web-browsing features so that mobile-based internet penetration gets a further fillip.
Schmidt is in New Delhi to speak at The Guardian's Big Tent Activate India event scheduled on March 21 in New Delhi.
The significance of the availability of a cheaper smartphone at that price is huge in India, where the share of mobile-based internet usage is as high as 25% compared to less than 15% globally. This share can go up manifold if smart phones with web-browsing facility can be made available at around Rs 2,700 a unit.
Schmidt admitted that managing the government was one of his biggest tasks in all the markets Google was operating. Expressing hope that the Indian regulatory system would not become as regressive as that prevalent in China, he said more investment in internet in India was sure to create another boom here. “Outsourcing created one kind of boom and now more investment in internet can create a bigger boom,” he said.
Explaining the innovation model Google chose to follow, Schmidt said he would prefer the company to remain a systematic innovator so that the gains from innovation could be more sustainable and derived from a series of advancements.
He dismissed fears of privacy problems the way Google products like the Gmail system operated, saying that the user always had the option of not using them. On the new product – Google Glass that allows a user to talk to the device and use it for a variety of functions including photography and scanning, Schmidt said it was designed in a way that anyone using it in a public place would be noticeable. Hence, privacy issues would be taken care of, he said.
On the question of what the biggest mistake he might have committed at the head of Google, Schmidt said underestimating the importance of the social media space was a mistake. Since then, Google has come out with a range of products to make amends for the lost opportunity.