During Google’s Q2 2010 earnings call today, one of the things Google’s executives were clearly very excited about was the Android platform. They noted that there are now 70,000 apps in the Android Market — up from 30,000 in April. They also reiterated the company line about how important openness is to the platform. But during the Q&A session, an interesting question was raised: how much investment is Google putting into Android for this open platform?
“Android cost isn’t material for the company,” Google CFO Patrick Pichette noted. He said that it’s important to remember that perhaps the key products for Android — the phone hardware — isn’t developed by Google at all. Droid X, for example, was entirely an investment by Motorola to make the device. “The entire ecosystem is exploding,” Pichette said.
“I think the most important thing beyond the growth is that the most popular app is a browser,” Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s SVP of Product Management, added. And what do people do there? They search — more than they ever have, Rosenberg continued. In fact, he says that search on Android devices grew 300% in the first half of 2010.
Rosenberg also added that mobile search growth across the board is up some 500% in the past two years from a traffic perspective. “Android is an accelerator of that,” Rosenberg concluded.
When another question wondered if the Android strategy was more defensive (presumably against Apple), Pichette said that Android is being done for “offensive reasons, not defensive reasons.” He reiterated the importance of an open ecosystem and said that smartphones are creating a new set of activities for search and transaction.
“I don’t think of this is defensive at all,” Rosenberg chimed in. He noted that all of this was in its nascent stages and that Google is investing heavily. “We see this platform as winning. It lets us build the mobile Internet,” he said.
In terms of making money off of Android’s software (beyond search), Rosenberg said it was too early to answer that. “We’re mostly focused on building out the platform with Android.“