Google CEO Larry Page isn't concerned about Android's lack of revenues, at least for the time being.
During a first-quarter earnings conference call today, Page was asked what Android's strategic value is to Google since the company is not licensing it and it's not making a significant chunk of revenue relative to its other ventures. Page dismissed the question as having a "short-term focus" and said that developing and pushing out Android was about much more than the bottom line.
MILESTONE: 850,000 Android devices activated daily
"We don't get many new operating systems and I think they're pretty important," said Page. "Android is about increasing the pace of innovation... We're only at the very early stages of what's possible."
Page said that Android has been useful in providing "great integration" across multiple Google services, including search, photo sharing and the Google+ social networking site. In the long run, Page predicted that such integration of services through Android would "lead to better economics for us" than current figures suggest.
There have been recurring questions about Google's long-term interest in Android ever since the Guardian reported last month that Android generated less than $550 million in total revenues for the company from its launch in 2008 through the end of 2011. What's more, the Guardian found that Google actually generated more than four times the revenue from having its services on the Apple iPhone than it did from having its services spread out across Android devices.
Android is currently the most popular mobile operating system in the world, as research firm Gartner reported late last year that Android devices accounted for more than half of all smartphones sold worldwide in the third quarter of 2011. Since its debut in the fall of 2007, Android has appeared on numerous popular smartphones for several carriers including Verizon's Motorola Droid and Sprint's HTC Evo 4G. Google now claims that it activates in excess of 850,000 Android devices every day.
As an open-source operating system that is free for device manufacturers to use, Android has been adopted by a wide range of handset makers including HTC, Motorola, LG, Samsung and Sony-Ericsson. Late last year Google unveiled Android 4.0 (a.k.a. "Ice Cream Sandwich"), which was the first version of the Android platform that was designed to work the same on both tablet and smartphone form factors.
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