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Former CEO defends Google using Caribbean tax shelter

While Q3 smartphone sales numbers are slightly deceptive as the much-anticipated Apple, Inc. (AAPLiPhone 5 was yet to launch, it's hard to deny that Google Inc. (GOOG) brightly outpaced its rival in unit sales, with Google's Android taking 72 percent of the market, versus a mere 14 percent for Apple.  In a new interview, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt says that equated to 1.3 million Android smartphones activated a day, a key to Google outselling its rival 5-to-1.

I. Google v. Apple == Microsoft v. Apple Computer?

He compares his company's war against Apple to Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) successful campaign against Apple Computer back in the 1980s and 1990s.  He remarks to Bloomberg, "This is a huge platform change; this is of the scale of 20 years ago -- Microsoft versus Apple.  We’re winning that war pretty clearly now."

To Eric Schmidt, the sales triumph is vindication of Google's decision to give away Android to third party OEMs, versus Apple's policy of zealously possessive in-house efforts.  Comments Mr. Schmidt, "The core strategy is to make a bigger pie.  We will end up with a not perfectly controlled and not perfectly managed bigger pie by virtue of open systems."

Eric Schmidt
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt claims Apple is repeating its own painful history.
[Image Source: The Sydney Morning Herald]

As for his company's and the general economy's outlook, he says he sees signs for optimism in the Chinese recovery.  But he warns that the so-called "fiscal cliff" -- a series of automatic tax increases and spending cuts -- could kill a similar emerging recovery in the U.S.

He warns, "It will be tragic for the country if the sum of the government can’t resolve this.  You can think of what’s going on as one set of special interests versus another, and a big fight and they all have to feel like they’ve been heard."

He sees Europe as another soft spot, saying that region will struggle to recover as southern nations like Spain, Italy, and Greece dangle on the edge of financial insolvency.

II. Schmidt on Gov't Regulation, Taxes

Mr. Schmidt defends his company's decision to shuffle $9.8B USD to a shell company in Bermuda to escape $2B USD in taxes from countries like the U.S., UK, France, and Australia.  

He comments, "We pay lots of taxes; we pay them in the legally prescribed ways.  I am very proud of the structure that we set up. We did it based on the incentives that the governments offered us to operate.  It’s called capitalism.  We are proudly capitalistic. I’m not confused about this."

Gimme Shelter
Schmidt says nothing's wrong with Google using a tax shelter. [Image Source: Hook Worldwide]

On the topic of spectrum crunch, which AT&T, Inc. (T) and others have bemoaned, Mr. Schmidt says it is a real problem, but that smart antennas may be able to help.  He comments, "[True] all the modeling says the existing strategy will run out of cellular bandwidth in 2016 or 2017.  [But] today you get dedicated bandwidth on your phone, and your phone doesn’t say, ’Ah ha! I can go over here or over up here.’ Smart radios can do that."

Google+ was also plugged by the former chief executive, which calls a "viable competitor to Facebook", thanks to its 100 million active users.

Source: Bloomberg



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By djc208 on 12/14/2012 8:51:47 AM , Rating: 2
Great post, but I think you're missing one big point. Apple lives in the boutique world, the same one selling designer clothes and Starbucks coffee. They are as much about attitude as they are about quality (real or percieved). They always have to be careful to try and ballance their image with their desire for market share. Cadillac, BMW and others have tried "cheap" luxury cars, and inevitably it does more to hurt the brand than help it.

Apple may want to be the end-all and be-all of smart phones, but like the computer market they will not be willing to go where the majority of the market is. They may have been one of the first to turn electronics into a consumer/fashion device from a tool/toy, but they don't want to be the budget computer/phone choice any more than Starbucks wants to start selling $0.99 cups of coffee.

Apple's fear is that Android or MS is pushing them to do more to compete, which means more money to keep up/keep ahead and less for profit. The Maps issue is a good example of this. How much money and bad PR has it cost Apple to try and compete with Google and MS on maps? The other is that while neither may ever get the polish that Apple has, they only have to get close to seriously erode Apple's market.


“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs














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