BARCELONA: Sales of phones using Google's Android operating system have risen to 60,000 per day, with the search specialist planning to expand its mobile operations still further in future.

Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman and ceo, told the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that the company's programmers are now "doing work on mobile first" as they develop new applications.

It is unclear whether the 60,000 total referred to by Schmidt in his keynote speech, which suggests annual sales of 21.9 million are being achieved, refers to the number of phones being shipped to retailers, or to actual customer purchases.

The iPhone, launched by Apple in 2007, is currently selling at an annual rate of around 25 million.

Figures from comScore showed that Android, an open-source system, retained 5.2% of the US mobile market in December 2009, compared to the total of 25% enjoyed by the Apple-made device.

Google has been increasing its focus on mobile recently, reflecting the increased global sales of smartphones. 

Android is currently being offered on handsets from Motorola and HTC, as well as via Google's own Nexus One, which was released last month.

"The top programmers want to work on mobile apps," Schmidt said.

"Phones are so much more personal and satisfying. The phone is no longer just a phone, it's your alter ego - it's fundamental to everything you do."

Elsewhere at the conference, Vittorio Colao, ceo of Vodafone, the UK telecoms giant, warned against Google's increasing influence on the industry, specifically its dominance of online advertising.

He said the European Commission should safeguard market competition "before it is too late".

Colao added that network companies such as Vodafone should be allowed free rein to arrange deals with content creators such as media companies, in order to prevent the costs of infrastructure investment being funded by consumers alone.

"The ability to, at the end of the day, fund our investments with customers' money is fine but we should be able also to have other deals," he said.

Data sourced from Brand Republic/Business Insider/Daily Telegraph/Guardian/Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff