Ina Fried

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Talking Mobile With Google’s Jason Spero and AOL’s David Temkin

A few weeks back I had the chance to grill — I mean, interview — a couple of top mobile executives at the MobileBeat conference in San Francisco.

For those who didn’t get a chance to see those chats with Google’s Jason Spero and AOL’s David Temkin, both are now available for your Web-viewing pleasure, so I thought I would do a post pointing you in their direction. (Hey, we’re nothing if not full-service here at AllThingsD.)

If you are really, really lazy, here are the highlights:

In addition to bemoaning missing the Women’s World Cup soccer semifinals, Spero and I naturally talked about the opportunities and challenges on the ad side of the mobile business. On the plus side, Spero said that mobile ad rates have held relatively steady even with a huge increase in volume, something he called a fairly significant accomplishment. The quality of those ads, he acknowledged, remains a top issue for Google.

“If you look backwards, we have made enormous strides in quality,” Spero said. “But it continues to be the absolute No. 1 investment area … Frankly, if we don’t do it, we are going to decrease click-through rates.”

We also chatted about how his view on Apple versus Android has changed since joining Google, as well as the privacy challenges relating to location-based services.

As for Temkin, I began by asking him whether in fact AOL has a mobile strategy (doing my best to channel my inner Kara Swisher). He then quipped that it had something to do with mailing out smartphones with DVDs giving 10 hours of free usage, before getting into the company’s real strategy in mobile.

AOL, Temkin said, has passed Microsoft to become the No. 4 mobile destination on the Web, behind only Google, Facebook and Yahoo. “We’re doing pretty well on mobile,” he said, noting that it is not just about AOL.com but also its subbrands, such as Engadget, Moviefone and Stylelist.

He also talked about some of the company’s new “mobile-first” initiatives, including a music application called Play by AOL and a forthcoming online magazine, Editions by AOL. Plus, I got a chance to abuse him by playing the old AOL dial-up tone a couple times. The video is worth watching for that bit of nostalgia alone.

Jason Spero interview:

David Temkin interview (split into two parts):

Part 2:


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus