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By Georgina Prodhan and Kate Holton
BARCELONA Feb 16 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)