Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has been making waves recently in Asia while on a whirlwind tour that began with a visit to North Korea last month. Google’s ex-CEO was at the Big Tent Activate India conference in New Delhi yesterday, where during a discussion with The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, he talked about privacy in today’s ultra-connected world, Google’s services and why he thinks you should buy a Nexus 10 over an iPad.

If you have been following our Google stories, then the news of Reader being killed would have caught you by as much surprise as it did many around the world. The popular RSS reader was knocked off unceremoniously, and it was but natural that Schmidt was questioned about this. “I loved it,” he said, before adding that it was with a “heavy heart” that they decided to end Reader. At this point, Rusbridger asked, “Why do men kill the things they love?” Schmidt’s answer was very succinct: “Priorities.”

Google Reader will be missed dearly

Google Reader will be missed dearly

A developer in the audience wondered why no Nexus smartphones have been officially launched in India. “We will be bringing the Nexus devices to India. We want a fully serviced market.” Of course, rumours of the Nexus 4 coming to India have been going around for a while, but there is no sign of the handset on the official channels. If you want one, you could still try your luck through online retailers and the grey market. Perhaps, Google is weighing options of how to distribute and service the Nexus devices before taking the plunge into what is surely a big market for the likes of the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 tablet.

Speaking of which, the former member of Apple’s board of directors was clear in his choice on what tablets consumers should go for. “I have both,” he said when asked whether he prefers the iPad or the iPad mini. But he said “the iPad mini is too small,” before talking up the Samsung-made Nexus 10. “Frankly, if you take a look at the Samsung 10-inch tablet, called the Nexus 10? More apps, more scalable, more secure.

One question that iPhone fans eagerly waited for came in the middle of the discussion, when Schmidt was asked if Google Now is coming to iOS: The voice-based contextual search assistant is one of the biggest projects in Google, but on the question of an iOS version of it, Schmidt said, “You should ask that question to Apple.,” adding that Apple goes through a heavily-curated approval process for all apps in the app store.

Is Google Now coming to the iPhone? (Image credit: Google Inc)

Is Google Now coming to the iPhone? (Image credit: Google Inc)

Schmidt is a big advocate of an open internet, so naturally he has been talking about the need for it in India, but he stuck to talking about his visit to North Korea at Big Tent event. Firstly, he joked that he went there to play some basketball, but swiftly changed to a more serious matter, “Internet was built for everyone, including the citizens of North Korea. The quickest way to open up growth in North Korea is access to the Internet. North Korea has no internet connectivity. It is the last closed country in the world. My goal was to convince them to turn on data services as they have that infrastructure.

Speaking about the future of mobile devices, Schmidt spoke about how mobile apps are set to get more powerful in the near future. He added that the future was definitely mobile and that advertising (a key source of Google’s revenue) would have to be streamlined for mobile gadgets. This is where he brought up Google Glass and the rumoured Apple iWatch, and how developers and advertisers would have to adapt and customise their content for such devices.

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