It's 'curious' that Apple hasn't sued Google, says Schmidt
"Obviously, we would have preferred [Apple] to use our maps ... Eric Schmidt. Photo: Bloomberg
Google's former CEO and current executive chairman Eric Schmidt says he thinks it's "curious" that Apple has sued Google's partners, but not Google itself.
Schmidt, who sat down with The Wall Street Journal for a short but wide-ranging interview, elaborated that Google and Apple will both come out fine in the patent wars. The victim, Schmidt says, is the small entrepreneur.
"Let me tell you the loser here," Schmidt said. "There's a young [Android co-founder] Andy Rubin trying to form a new version of Danger [the smartphone company Mr. Rubin co-founded before Android]. How is he or she going to be able to get the patent coverage necessary to offer version one of their product? That's the real consequence of this."
Among the other highlights of the interview:
On Apple's relationship with Google: It's always been on and off. Obviously, we would have preferred them to use our maps. They threw YouTube off the home screen [of iPhones and iPads]. I'm not quite sure why they did that. The press would like to write the sort of teenage model of competition, which is, 'I have a gun, you have a gun, who shoots first?' The adult way to run a business is to run it more like a country. They have disputes, yet they've actually been able to have huge trade with each other. They're not sending bombs at each other. I think both Tim [Cook, Apple's CEO] and Larry [Page, Google's CEO], the sort of successors to Steve [Jobs] and me if you will, have an understanding of this state model. When they and their teams meet, they have just a long list of things to talk about.
On a Google wireless network: I'm sure we will discuss this, but at the moment we're busy working on wireline [internet]. This Kansas City stuff [where Google is rolling out a high-speed fibre network] is extraordinarily exciting, and we're focusing on that. The current spectrum shortage [facing the mobile industry] is real, but it's an artefact of a licensing and regulatory error. New technology allows there to be lots of spectrum, far more than you could use.
On the monetisation gulf between Android and iOS apps: Google Play [Google's app store] and the monetisation just started working well in the last year, maybe the last six months. The volume is indisputable, and with the volume comes the opportunity and the luxury of time.
On a Siri: Well, it's competition. I mean, in the antitrust filings, we actually use Siri as an example of future "non-conforming to the web" competition , which we do worry about.
On Google being a competitor to its hardware partners: We are and we're not. When we bought Motorola, I personally flew to Samsung, who's the number-one partner of Android by volume. I told them that the [Android] ecosystem has to be favoured at all costs ... the Motorola products can't be unduly favoured, unless you're also unduly favouring Samsung. If it looks unfair, and then the ecosystem unravels, then it's a terrible mistake.
On Windows 8: I have not used it, but I think that Microsoft has not emerged as a trendsetter in this new model yet.
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