At least 65,000 mobile phones powered by Google’s Android operating system are being shipped every day, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said on Thursday.
Schmidt, speaking at Google’s annual shareholder meeting at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, said the open-source Android system is now being used on 34 mobile devices in 49 countries.
“It looks like Android is going to be either the number one or number two player” in the mobile phone market, he said at the meeting, which was streamed live on Google-owned YouTube.
Google makes its Android software available to handset manufacturers and also sells its own smartphone, the Nexus One.
“Our partners are shipping about 65,000 Android handsets per day, but if you check the blogosphere you’ll discover there are some reports that that number might be quite low,” Schmidt said.
Sales of more than 2 million Android handsets a month would approach those of Google rival Apple, which reported sales of 8.75 million iPhones last quarter.
According to industry research firm NPD, US sales of smartphones running Android actually surged past those of Apple in the first quarter of the year.
Android-powered smartphones accounted for 28 percent of US consumer sales, compared with 21 percent for the iPhone, NPD said.
Canada’s Research in Motion, maker of the popular Blackberry, retained the top spot with 36 percent of US smartphone sales in the quarter.
“Our strategy is very different from everybody else’s,” Schmidt said of Android. “We license our code for free, so that’s really pretty revolutionary.
“We’re trying to build an entire ecosystem of openness, the inverse of the other guys,” he said, without mentioning Apple by name.
Google cofounder Larry Page, who also attended the meeting, said the strategy of getting more devices running Android provides benefits “through more [Google] searches and other things that we do.
“I think you’ll see that as those products mature we’ll figure out how to make more money from them,” Page said.
Schmidt agreed, saying “while it’s true that we’re very happy to give away Android, the applications and the services that can be provided on a very large, very broad framework can be enormously valuable over the next five or 10 years.”
He added that the company’s situation in China “seems to be stable” following its decision two months ago to stop censoring Web search results.
Google has “maintained our business relationships and our engineering centers in China. The situation seems to be stable,” Schimdt said in response to a question from a shareholder, although he added that it could always change.
“Should the Chinese government become upset with us, or become further upset with us or what have you, they do have the ability to change this outcome,” he said.
“From Google’s perspective we made our decision, we’ve implemented it, we want to continue to serve the Chinese citizens,” Schmidt said. “We want to continue our business operations in China.”
Google last month stopped censoring Web search results on its Chinese search engine and began redirecting users to an uncensored site in Hong Kong, a move that was praised by a number of shareholders on Thursday.
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