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Android Co-Founder Rich Miner on Why He's Rarely Wrong

That said, enterprise adoption of mobile devices has been slower than Miner expected.

Ina Fried for Re/code

The last time I sat down with Rich Miner, the co-founder of the mobile operating system Android, he talked about the huge opportunity in the mobile enterprise space.

A year later, there has not been a ton of progress in that area, but Miner still sees it as one of the brightest prospects for investment.

“I tend to not be wrong,” he said during an interview at last week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “I just tend to be early, sometimes too early.”

That said, as a partner at GV, Alphabet’s venture firm, Miner acknowledges it would be nice to see his bets pay off sooner rather than later.

Another area where Miner admits there has been slow progress has been around the usefulness of tablets. One need look no further than the giant booth for Samsung, which was dominated by phones and VR gear, rather than anything tablet-related.

“I think that shows that the industry hasn’t figured out how to make tablets successful,” he said, pointing out that most tablets are still poor at doing more than one thing at a time, despite their large screens. The platform makers — Apple, Google and Microsoft — need to take on this part of the issue, Miner said.

Miner has been backing a range of companies in the mobile arena, including deep linking company URX, upstart phone maker Nextbit and a handful of companies in mobile advertising.

On the hardware front, Miner said he sees an opportunity for Nextbit thanks to its cloud-based backup feature, but said he was struck by the amount of sameness he saw while perusing the new phones on display in Barcelona.

“Certainly I think the rate of innovation in phones has slowed,” Miner said.

Phone makers, he said, need to get more serious about the software and services they can develop to make their phones stand out from one another.

Miner is also keen on the potential of artificial intelligence, and in particular automated assistants.

It’s something he knows a lot about. Miner built and sold Wildfire — a very early speech-based automation service used for voice mail and voice dialing.

Software should be good at handling a range of tasks, Miner said, from scheduling meetings to offering investment advice to organizing your photos.

On that last front, Miner heaps praise on Google Photos, noting that until it came around he had tried everything — even hiring some of his IT staff — to try to manage his collection of more than 100,000 photos. He proudly shows off how a search for mackerel pulls up a bunch of pictures of the fish.

Plus, he says, he can now tell his wife he finally organized all the family photos.

“I was able to go back to my wife and say it wasn’t easy, but I did it,” Miner said.

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