Google's Eric Schmidt has a reputation for raising eyebrows with his public proclamations, so this latest episode should come as little surprise — the company chairman declared during the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo that Android has a security advantage over Apple's iPhone. In comments reported by ZDNet, Schmidt responded to a question from Gartner analyst David Willis as such:

Willis: "If you polled many people in this audience they would say Google Android is not their principal platform... When you say Android, people say, wait a minute, Android is not secure."

Schmidt: "Not secure? It's more secure than the iPhone."

The answer reportedly drew laughs from the audience in attendance. Although Schmidt apparently did not give a direct explanation, he pointed to Android's billion-plus device activations and stringent security testing.

"You will be happier with Gmail, Chrome and Android more than you can possibly imagine."

Schmidt also pre-empted the long-standing criticism that Android is a fragmented platform by pointing to Google's unified Play store. "With Android we have an agreement for vendors that you keep the Android stores compatible and that is a great breakthrough for Android," he said. A recent US government survey declared that the lack of an upgrade path for many Android devices could pose a malware risk. But Schmidt argues that "the key thing" is that "when you buy an Android phone the apps are compatible."

"Android is very secure," said Schmidt at the end of the session, where he discussed other topics including the future of email, consumers' privacy expectations, and the possibility of Google Now in the enterprise. "You will be happier with Gmail, Chrome and Android more than you can possibly imagine."