Google says Android’s next year will earn $1 billion

How much can you earn when you have the most popular mobile operating system in the US? Apparently more than $1 billion a year.

Google’s Android guy Jonathan Rosenberg said in an earnings call that it expects Android revenue to reach 10 figures over the next year. That’s on top of the money it already earns through ads it powers on every other mobile platform.

It’s an impressive sales goal for an operating system that is completely free to use. Unlike other platforms from companies like Nokia and Microsoft, manufacturers don’t need to pay Google any money for the ability to use its operating system.

However, Google does get a cut of every Android Market sale, it sells ads on the platform, and other content providers strike deals with the search giant to get stronger presence on Android. quote Google CEO Eric Schmidt as saying this about Android’s success: “Android is much bigger than I could ever have hoped for. Android can become a hugely profitable business for us. Search on mobile will eventually exceed that of PCs … so, eventually, mobile will be a very, very strong revenue stream in comparison to PCs.”

Android has been ranked as the most popular mobile platform in the US. More people have Android phones than iPhones, although the iPhone continues to be the top-selling individual handset. Android’s strength is due in part to its wide reach across virtually every mobile manufacturer and every mobile service provider.

For Android, the next year will be highly focused on tablet devices as Google takes on Apple’s other big cash cow: the iPad.