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By Georgina Prodhan and Kate Holton
BARCELONA, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Google Inc (GOOG.O) Chief Executive Eric Schmidt urged the mobile industry not to block the opportunities offered by the mobile Web, and said Google and telecom carriers could have a symbiotic relationship.
Speaking for the first time at Mobile World Congress, the telecommunications industry’s biggest annual fair, Schmidt urged carriers on Tuesday to seize an historic moment and rise to the occasion by working with Google, not against it.
“It’s like magic. All of a sudden there are things that you can do that didn’t really occur to you ... because of this convergence point,” he told the audience in Barcelona.
“That time is upon us -- right now, right here, for this year and at least the next many years,” he told a packed auditorium of operators, telecom gear vendors and observers of an industry that generally views Google with suspicion.
“There’s an implication of this that I think has not been expressed, here, or in the industry as a whole,” Schmidt told the audience. “It’s the principle of mobile first.”
Google has raised hackles in the industry by launching a smartphone platform -- Android -- selling its own-branded phone directly to consumers without the mediation of carriers, and announcing plans to build a super-fast broadband network.
It has also been seen as a problem by some operators which are having to invest and upgrade their networks to meet the huge demand for data services required by users who are spending time on the mobile Internet and sites from Internet search leader Google and others.
“We want to have a little bit of Google in everybody’s transaction with the Internet,” Schmidt said.
But he said there was value to be had for everyone, and the operators should see the huge increase in data usage as a boon. They would get their money back in many, many ways, he said.
In a sometimes prickly question and answer session with members of the industry, Schmidt told the audience he relied on the successful performance of the operators and said both sides had to work to deliver whatever the consumer wanted.
“I feel very strongly that we depend on the successful businesses of the operators,” he said, adding that he needed the operators to provide security.
“I‘m enormously proud to be part of this. I‘m proud to be here,” he said. (Editing by Will Waterman and Gerald E. McCormick)