Google boss shows off iPhone

Apple board member and Google CEO Eric Schmidt says the iPhone will be the perfect mobile platform for Web-based applications.

PARIS--Apple's much-vaunted iPhone received a ringing endorsement from Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who said the handset is a perfect platform for the search specialist's hosted applications.

Speaking at an event in Paris on Tuesday, Schmidt was asked whether, as Google's boss and an Apple board member, he had any insights into future collaboration between the two companies.

"What you are really asking is to see my iPhone," he quipped before producing a handset from his pocket. "iPhone is a powerful new device and is going to be particularly good for the apps that Google is building. You should expect other announcements from the two companies over time," he said.

On Wednesday, Apple revealed that the iPhone will have a "special YouTube player"--and online-video phenomenon YouTube, of course, is now a Google property.

The iPhone, which is set to be launched in the United States on June 29, fully incorporates Google's search and mapping services. Users can make phone calls directly from Google Maps.

Key to Google's belief in the potential of the iPhone is Apple's decision to integrate support for the Ajax Web development technique.

Effectively the native language of interactive Web technologies--known as Web 2.0--Ajax combines the best elements of software as a service, including thin-client computing, Web standards and platform independence.

Enterprises could create applications in Ajax and run them on any device they choose, including the iPhone, without any need for the time-consuming coding normally required to port applications onto different devices.

Schmidt made no attempt to hide his belief that mobile handsets will be increasingly important to Google, and he even used some ringtone sound effects in his speech to illustrate the point.

"It is a certainty that we will get more people online and more quickly. I travel a lot, and the metaphor I hear is a mobile phone. There are 2.4 billion mobiles in use today--it took 20 years to get to 1 billion and four years to get to 2 billion," he said.

In a speech and question-and-answer session that lasted more than an hour, Schmidt discussed a variety of topics, including how the search giant intends to prevent further criticisms of its approach to user privacy. "If people don't trust Google, then we've got a problem, because they are literally one click away from switching," he said.

Schmidt also discussed future developments and said cross-language translation is one of the most important technologies the company is developing. "Of all the advances we are making, the cross-language translation is the most interesting," he said.

The next big activity for the search specialist will be to add new primary-content sources to the Web, such as books and documents. For example, typing "Suez Canal" into Google will bring information that dates back to when the canal originally opened in 1869, Schmidt said.

Andrew Donoghue of ZDNet UK reported from Paris.

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