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TMCNet:  Google I/O conference may highlight new phone and online software

[May 14, 2013]

Google I/O conference may highlight new phone and online software

SAN FRANCISCO, May 14, 2013 (San Jose Mercury News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Google (GOOG) will have a difficult time matching the spectacle of last year's surprise sky-diving demonstration over Moscone Center, but several thousand software developers and other techies are still eager to see what the giant Internet company plans to show off this year at the annual conference known as I/O.

Along with a new Nexus smartphone and possibly other gadgets, analysts and tech bloggers are looking for a demonstration of new applications for the wearable computer known as Glass, as well as updates to Google's Android mobile software, a new online messaging service and possibly other new products.

I/O, which runs Wednesday through Friday, is a chance for developers and analysts who don't work at Google to talk shop and trade coding tips with the company's own software experts. But it's also become known as the event where Google showcases its latest big ideas.

That was the case last year, when Google co-founder Sergey Brin showed off the new Glass device by hosting a video chat with several sky divers who wore the Internet-connected gadget as they parachuted to the roof of the Moscone West convention building in downtown San Francisco.

"The first question is: 'What stunt will they play this year ' " Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said in a blog post this week. "Last year's parachuting on the Moscone Center was pretty special." But after that spectacle, Google appears to be trying to lower expectations for this year. While the company usually gives few clues about planned announcements, Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai recently suggested the emphasis will be on new online services, rather than shiny new hardware.

"It's going to be different. It's not a time when we have much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system," Pichai told Wired magazine. Adding that the conference will focus on writing programs for Google's Android and Chrome operating systems, he said, "We will show how Google services are doing amazing things on top of these two platforms." Pichai oversees the Chrome business and also recently took over Google's Android division from veteran executive Andy Rubin, who moved to an undisclosed new assignment at the company. Analysts are hoping for news about Rubin's new project this week.

CEO Larry Page did not make a major speech at last year's conference, and he is expected to keep a relatively low profile again this year. He announced Tuesday that he has partial vocal cord paralysis, which he said has not interfered with his job but still makes long speeches "more tedious for me, and probably the audience." Based on previous conferences, Google is likely to show off a new smartphone bearing the Nexus brand, which the company uses to demonstrate its latest software and services. Analysts say Google has hinted that it may also have news about an Internet television service and an online messaging system called Babel, rumored to be Google's answer to popular competing services like Line and WhatsApp.

Google also has reportedly been working to build an online streaming music service, which may be announced this week.

Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022; follow him at Twitter.com/BrandonBailey.

___ (c)2013 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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