Eric Schmidt: Potential Android and Chrome OS merger rooted in software advancement

The executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company, admits there is some merit to the rumour of its mobile and laptop software merging, and talks up the company's presence in China.

Speaking at TechCrunch's Beijing summit, Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt spoke on how the distinctions between Android and Chrome OS would become smaller and smaller. Pictured is Dell's Chromebook 13.

Sarah Tew/CNET

BEIJING -- The distinctions between Google's Android and Chrome OS software will eventually become less apparent, according to Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google's parent company Alphabet.

"Technology can move forward where it's possible you can wrap one into the other," Schmidt said on Monday at the TechCrunch Beijing summit.

Schmidt made the comment as Google was reported to be working towards folding its Chrome OS software, used on laptops called Chromebooks, into Android, its smartphone and tablet operating system. The move could see Android come to PCs.

Google has tried to penetrate the PC market with its generally inexpensive Chromebooks, made by companies such as Dell and Toshiba, but its market share falls far behind Windows, with only 3.5 percent of laptops sold last year running Chrome OS, according to research firm IDC.

Schmidt didn't explicitly say its mobile and PC software would definitely merge. He did say, however, that the Android, Chrome OS and HTML5 environments could be better integrated with today's tech advancements, though he didn't elaborate specifically on how.

"I think the distinctions that are so hardcoded today are allowed to become less hardcoded," he said, adding that as the distinctions between the two products become smaller, the software can serve a larger audience.

Google in the People's Republic

On Monday, Schmidt also addressed his company's views on China. Google may have pulled its products out of the country in 2010, but he claimed, "We would very much like to serve China."

"We continue to chat with the government," he added.

Google partially retreated from the Chinese market after repeated disputes with the government over censorship. Last year China began blocking all access to Google products in the country in an effort to ramp up online censorship. However, last month Google was reported to be launching an app store in the country.

Still, on Monday Schmidt was quick to point out that "Google never left China." The company still has offices that sell online advertising space to Chinese businesses, and Android is the most widely used mobile operating system in the country. Google's new flagship Nexus 6P phone is made in partnership with Chinese vendor Huawei.

Schmidt didn't elaborate on Alphabet or Google's plans for China, however. In the past, he's been critical of the country's censorship, and even predicted its eventual demise due to the arrival of new tech innovation.

But even without Google, China's Internet sector has only grown, along with its censorship. The country is home to 668 million online users and is the biggest market for smartphones, according to the China Internet Network Information Center and IDC respectively.

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