Google on Android: 'It's a numbers game'

In it for the long haul, but what about Chrome?

Google on Android: 'It's a numbers game'
Google execs have been banging the drum for the company's Android mobile platform, stressing that it's early days in the battle against Apple's iPhone.

"In the end, it's a numbers game," said VP of mobile engineering platforms Andy Rubin at a launch event for T-Mobile's new myTouch 3G Android handset.

"History has shown a single product has limits on how the numbers can scale. The power of Android is there can be 1000 different products built on Android. The magic is they are all compatible… There could be 1000 killer apps. The user gets to decide which ones they want to use."

Mobile games firms may be feeling rather green about the gills after reading that quote, given their complaints about having to support thousands of different handsets in the Java world.

However, Rubin's comments do tie into a notion that we've heard from non-Google people, too: that Android has the potential to do to iPhone what Microsoft did to Apple in the home computer market in the 1980s - overtake it by being available on many more devices.

Rubin also revealed at the event that Google plans two major updates to the Android OS every year, and that an upcoming feature will tie in social networking features more closely.

More relevantly for games developers, he said Google will support more payment systems for apps than just its own Google Checkout in the future.

But that future has been clouded a bit by the announcement last week of Chrome OS, Google's new operating system for netbooks based on Google's Chrome web browser.

Android can run on netbooks, too, sparking questions about whether the two platforms clash, or even whether Chrome could kill off Android.

Rubin says not: "Chrome has a web browser-centric view. In cell phones, there are different priorities. That doesn’t mean one wins and one doesn’t."

However, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking at a separate conference the day before, seemed to have fuelled rumours that the two OS's may come together.

"There’s a great deal of commonality. Eventually they may merge even closer."

Contributing Editor

Stuart is a freelance journalist and blogger who's been getting paid to write stuff since 1998. In that time, he's focused on topics ranging from Sega's Dreamcast console to robots. That's what you call versatility. (Or a short attention span.)