Technology can't save the economy all on its own, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told me at the inaugural Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, Calif. I spoke with Schmidt in a broadcast exclusive to talk economy, Google's latest news and what he's advocating to drive growth.
Schmidt says job creation is the most important thing the economy needs right now, particularly in the manufacturing sector. He's very frustrated at the government's slow pace in boosting employment—effectively saying it's ridculous that so much proposed legislation has to wait until after the November elections.
As part of the Obama Administration's 17-member economic advisory board, Schmidt says he advocates doing whatever it takes to stimulate job growth and the creation of new industry, particularly in the tech sector.
Google , however, is very much hiring. Schmidt says the company is adding jobs in the US and around the world, as it continues to expand products and services.
He weighed in on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) crackdown on Blackberry usage (because the device's maker, Research in Motion , makes it difficult to screen email communication), saying he thinks its "bad behavior" to block the whole category of phones. But Schmidt says he's unconcerned about the possibility of similar response to Android-powered phones. Android is a Google operating system for mobile devices.
He raved about the success of Android, noting that 200,000 Android-powered phones are selling each day. NPD just reported that Android phones were the most popular smartphones in the second quarter. And Google's investment in the free OS has paid off: Schmidt says Android-driven mobile search revenue covers its investment in the operating system "and a whole lot more."
Schmidt refused to comment on a rumored deal with Verizon, but said Google has been talking to Verizon for "a long time" about the definition of net neutrality, a hot button issue for Internet companies and the FCC.
Schmidt clarified that the net neutrality he advocates is not a neutrality between different types of content, but between the same type of content. He wants to make sure that there's no discrimination between one video download over another.
Schmidt also declined to comment on speculation that Google is buying social media startup Slide for $180 million. But he did say that Google's been doing a lot of deals "across the board," seeing acquisitions as the best way to acquire top talent. Schmidt says the company is averaging two acquisitions a month—more than he originally predicted.
And he offered some clarity on Google's social strategy, emphasizing that Google is not trying to create another Facebook, but is rather looking to integrate social elements into all its products. Knowing what your friends are searching for or what they designate as spam could improve your search results or your spam filter.
Knowing your location could also transform the value of search—not to mention the value of ads that go along with those searches. Schmidt praised location-based social networks FourSquare and Gowalla, but emphasized that the social layer needs to be "opt-in," so users can decide whether to share information about their whereabouts and activities.
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