Google CEO says mobile revs small but growing fast

SAN FRANCISCO Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:23pm EDT

Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google, answers a question from former U.S. President Bill Clinton (not pictured) during the opening plenary session at the Clinton Global Initiative, in New York, September 21, 2010. REUTERS/Chip East

Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google, answers a question from former U.S. President Bill Clinton (not pictured) during the opening plenary session at the Clinton Global Initiative, in New York, September 21, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Chip East

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc expects mobile searches to generate most of its revenue eventually, but it could take a long time despite growing at a rapid clip, Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said on Tuesday.

Searches made on Android-based smartphones and other mobile devices are growing quickly but will remain immaterial to the company's bottom line for some time to come, he said.

Searches on Android phones -- made by companies including Motorola Inc, HTC Corp and Samsung Electronics -- more than tripled in the first half of 2010, he added.

"Eventually we think mobile will be the majority of the searches and the majority of the revenue, but it's a long time," he told an audience at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

For Google, the world's No. 1 Internet search engine, making the transition to mobile phones is key as it seeks to maintain and expand its nearly $24 billion online advertising business. Its Android software, offered free to cell phone vendors, has experienced dramatic growth since coming to market two years ago.

More than 200,000 Android phones are sold every day, according to Google.

HIGHLY LUCRATIVE

Since Apple Inc launched its iPhone in 2007, the mobile market has become a prime battleground for technology companies, as consumers increasingly use their phones to send email, listen to music and access social networking services.

Schmidt spoke highly of 4-year-old microblogging sensation Twitter, which is attempting to mold its more than 145 million user base into a sustainable, revenue-generating business.

Google has struggled to create a major hit in social networking, where consumers are spending increasing amounts of time on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

"Twitter should be able to come up with advertising and monetization products that in our opinion are highly lucrative," Schmidt said. "We think they're going to do very, very well."

Some Silicon Valley investors believe Google or rival Apple could acquire privately held Twitter in order to establish a position in social networking.

"Is there a scenario where you think you don't have to buy Twitter in the near future? I don't see it," Dave McClure, cofounder of venture capital firm 500 Startups, said of Google.

"Whatever your math is, you better do it soon, because you're getting killed by Facebook."

Schmidt also said its Youtube online video service receives 2 billion "monetized views" every week and that Google's Chrome browser, which competes against Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer, boasts more than 70 million users.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Additional reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Richard Chang)

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