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Eric Schmidt talks Apple, self-driving cars, China, and more

In a wide ranging chat with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, former Google Inc. (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt opened up about his thoughts on technology, competition, and the world at large.

I. iOS Maps, Phones v. PCs, FRAND Abuse

Mr. Schmidt, speaking at a 92|Y interview, commented early on that he feels the four most influential tech companies are (of course) Google, Apple, Inc. (AAPL), Facebook, Inc. (FB), and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN).  Was the decision not to mention Microsoft Corp (MSFT) (which has 1.3 billion customers worldwide) an accident?  Nope, Mr. Schmidt remarks, "Deliberate."

On the topic of the iOS 6/iPhone 5 maps debacle, he reiterates, "Apple should have kept our maps. Apple decided a long time ago to do their own maps … [now they've] discovered that maps are really hard."

Why should Apple have stuck with Google Maps?  The Google executive states simply, "They’re better maps."

Eric Schmidt
Eric Schmidt @ 92|Y [Image Source: All Things D]

On the state of Android, Mr. Schmidt shares that the platform currently has 500 million handsets in the wild and should reach 1 billion by mid-2013.  He claims four times as many Android phones are activated as iPhones -- 1.3 million per day (on average).  The former CEO points out that there are now (around) one billion smartphones and six billion (total) phones (including feature phones).  He says that dwarfs the number of "traditonal" PCs (around 1.3-1.5 billion, by Microsoft's and Apple's accounting).

Google earnings
There are now 500 million Android handsets in the wild. [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

On the patent wars with Apple and Microsoft, and the allegations that Google's subsidiary Motorola is abusing standards patents, he comments, "I can't talk about [FRAND abuse] because I don’t know the details and because it actually just gets me too upset. Patent wars are a disaster for all of us. Everyone can find prior art for everything. So the new trick is to get judges to block devices country by country. It’s bad for innovation, it’s bad for choices."

II. Schmidt Talks Apple, the Borg

Kara Swisher asks Mr. Schmidt, "You guys have vast ambitions. I think about you like the Borg. What is the end game? In the beginning you wanted to collect all the world’s information."

To that Mr. Schmidt responds, "We want to be in the center of the information revolution. The world doesn’t need more copycat products; it needs innovative products."

Despite all his company's troubles with Steve Jobs and the late Apple CEO's fiery hatred for Android, Mr. Schmidt expresses remorse at his passing.  Asked what company he would most like to work for, other than Google, he commented, "I was on Apple’s board, and I’ll always have a soft spot for them. I was very good friends and very close to Steve Jobs, and we miss him dearly. Jeff Bezos has made remarkable moves. And again, Facebook has a billion users."

Borg
Kara Swisher compared Google to the Borg. [Image Source: Comic Vine]

On his company's ongoing struggles with China, he comments the Chinese internet censorship policy is a "hellacious law … true, hardcore censorship."  He describes doing business in China as "untenable".

But overall Mr. Schmidt's outlook on the future was positive, as he imagine the possibilities of ubiquitous mobile apps and self-driving cars.  If there was one shining moment in the talk it was Ms. Swisher's Borg comment.  It sums up Google nicely -- a company driving the technology sphere into the future in so many arenas, and yet a company many fear has grown to big to be trusted.

Source: All Things D



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Apple makes Google look good
By BugblatterIII on 10/11/2012 9:35:17 PM , Rating: 2
Google does some very dodgy stuff and is indeed gaining control over many very important areas of our lives. They're far more powerful than Apple in the tech arena.

And yet Apple behaves so arrogantly we take our eyes off what Google's up to. Dangerous.

Don't get me wrong, Google produces a lot of great products. However with the free products we're the real product and we need a better idea of what that really means.




RE: Apple makes Google look good
By martyrant on 10/11/2012 11:32:27 PM , Rating: 2
I'm no Apple fan, but as far as information farming I'm sure google is much further advanced than Apple but I'm sure they do it to their customers just as much.

However, those two aside, Facebook makes both of them pretty harmless. ;)


RE: Apple makes Google look good
By Granseth on 10/12/2012 4:40:12 AM , Rating: 2
Except it's easy to not be a part of Facebook, it's a lot harder to not be in Google's ecosystem.


RE: Apple makes Google look good
By GotThumbs on 10/12/2012 9:09:17 AM , Rating: 4
Between the four companies....Apple is by far most like the Borg. Apples closed/proprietary system compared to Google's open and allows freedom of choice. Just as everyone makes a decision to use FB or not.

Once you own any one of Apple's product line....you HAVE to use Itunes. There are no other choices in that ecosystem for all within its collective...unless you hack your IProduct. Read Apples Terms of Agreement (TOA) and you will learn they can cancel your account and delete all your content with no further responsibility to you. Google does not force/require you to use their market place or any proprietary software. They provide YOU with the power to uncheck an option that will then allow you to purchase from other market places. Try that with Apple. YOU CAN'T.

Every businesses core reason for being is to earn revenue, and if you can't see that, your mind is closed to any form of reality and you have zero business sense. As that business grows, they can expand their view regarding innovations and expanding the company's contributions. Apple has ~1 Billion dollars in the bank. That's not investing...its hoarding.

I'm not all trusting of any company, Google included, but Google provides me with choices...and I recognize and appreciate that.

Each consumer has a choice....use a companies products and services or don't. There are other search engines if you don't like Google.

You're in control of your choices/decision...don't be so quick to blame others in attempt to avoid responsibility for your ignorance. It just reveles your ignorance further.


RE: Apple makes Google look good
By Tony Swash on 10/12/2012 12:01:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Once you own any one of Apple's product line....you HAVE to use Itunes. There are no other choices in that ecosystem for all within its collective...unless you hack your IProduct. Read Apples Terms of Agreement (TOA) and you will learn they can cancel your account and delete all your content with no further responsibility to you. Google does not force/require you to use their market place or any proprietary software. They provide YOU with the power to uncheck an option that will then allow you to purchase from other market places. Try that with Apple. YOU CAN'T.


If you sign up for Gmail you get enrolled into Google + automatically, try installing a non-Amazon e-book reader on a Kindle, Metro apps have to come via Microsoft. Apple does the same sort of stuff that everyone else does, trying to pretend that Apple is especially bad or their attempt to retain people within their ecosystem is unusual is a silly exaggeration.

Apple saw earlier than it's competitors how important an ecosystem would be in the post PC world and their ecosystem is better and bigger than the others with more content and is more widely available, that's not evil that's just being quicker of the mark and better than your competitors.

Google's entire business, 90%+ of it's revenue, comes from selling targeted advertising and they can only target that advertising by collecting data. They give away software and services in order to entice people into letting them collect data about them and their activities.

if you use Gmail you have to allow Google to scan it's content, Google also scans the non-Gmail emails sent to you by people who are not users of it's services. If you use any of Google's software or services you are not Google's customer you are it's product. That's not hyperbole it's just the facts.


RE: Apple makes Google look good
By retrospooty on 10/12/2012 12:22:09 PM , Rating: 1
uh uh, someone said something about Apple that did make Apple sound like a shiny happy feeling... Quick , Tony to the rescue. You must paint Apple in a positive light quickly before someone reads it!!!

Seriously Tony why?


By theapparition on 10/15/2012 10:26:51 AM , Rating: 2
Sigh.

I can buy any android device and not use Gmail. It's not a requirement.

The Kindle has long supported other ebook formats.

Microsoft seems intent on copying Apple, so no surprise there.


"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs














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