The world has never seen a platform fight like the one now under way between iOS and Android, Google's executive chairman said Wednesday evening in New York.
"The Android-Apple platform fight is the defining fight in the industry today," Eric Schmidt said in an interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.
Without naming his source, Schmidt said Google had "seen" surveys indicating that four Android devices sold for every Apple device. Within a year, he said, it's conceivable that there will be a billion devices running on Android.
The sheer volume of mobile device sales dwarfed any platform battle that came before it in the technology industry, Schmidt said, including Microsoft vs. Apple in the desktop computing market.
"The growth rate of mobile adoption exceeds everyone's expectations every quarter," he said. "The devices are becoming so useful that unless you're a significant knowledge worker, you could probably live most of your life with your mobile device."
Despite the competition between the platforms, Schmidt was cordial in his remarks about Apple. Noting that he had served on its board for several years, he said it would always have a special place in his heart. In response to an audience question about which big tech company he would most like to be CEO of, if he were forced to pick, he said Apple. "It has the most cash," he said with a smile.
Which isn't to say he didn't emphasize Google's superiority in other areas. "Apple has learned that maps are hard," he said.