Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt on Wednesday 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 (about Rs 2,700 at on Wednesday's exchange rate).
At a meeting with journalists here on Wednesday, he declined to reveal any further details on the stage of developing such a basic smartphone model, though he admitted Google was always encouraging phone makers to produce cheaper sets with web-browsing features, so that mobile-based internet penetration got a further fillip.
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 per cent compared to less than 15 per cent 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 operated. Expressing the hope that the Indian regulatory system would not become as regressive as that 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 privacy fears relating to the way Google products like the Gmail system operated, saying that the user always had the option of not using these. 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 as 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.