Google’s Executive Chairman and resident “philosopher”, Eric Shcmidt, is at it again. Whatever you think of the guy, he’s always good for a quote. Reuters interviewed him yesterday at the Nexus 7 launch in Japan, and he just couldn’t resist taking some not-so-subtle jabs at Apple over their dumping of Google’s Maps. I’ll give the man this much: he has a lot of balls wagging his finger at Apple, since the current cold war between the two companies started under his watch as CEO of Google, and largely because of his actions while on Apple’s Board of Directors.
Here’s a play-by-play, with a little commentary from yours truly:
1. “We think it would have been better if they had kept ours. But what do I know? What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It’s their call.”
This makes for a great soundbyte, but it feels pretty disingenuous, to me. Google forced Apple’s hand in a way because, according to several reliable sources of Apple information, they insisted that Apple add Latitude on-board in return for licensing and access to their true turn by turn mapping info and directions. If this is true, and it is a pretty reasonable explanation as to why Maps stayed so stagnant for so long, then it is understandable why Apple drew the line. Google was already getting enough of a free user data ride, and Latitude would have taken that to a whole new level.
In the end, everybody may have been better off today if Apple had just kept Maps as they were. Apple probably would have spent a lot more time on other areas of iOS 6, and there wouldn’t be this uncomfortable, growing pains period for the Maps app. However, Apple was between a rock and a hard place here, and despite their early struggles, it was time to make the break. Apple will be much better off in the long run, as long as they put in the effort to making the Maps app the best it can be.
2. “We have not done anything yet,” he said. (In regards to making a stand-alone iOS version of Google Maps, and submitting it to Apple for inclusion on the App Store)
Who knows how much you can really read into this comment. He didn’t say that it would never happen, but he did insinuate that nothing is planned at the moment. Who can blame Google if they want to have a popular platform lock-in for Android.
However, it will be interesting to see if either company will put their money where their mouth is. Will Google keep a compelling lock-in to themselves, or keep up their open appearances and their recent tradition of releasing their primary apps for iOS? And if Google does submit a Maps app for approval, will Apple continue its trend of the last two years, and approve them without delays or issues? Whatever happens, the tech media will be there to scrutinize and pick apart whatever decisions are made.
3. “Apple is the exception, and the Android system is the common model, which is why our market share is so much higher,” Schmidt said, adding that success was often ignored by the media, which he said was “obsessed with Apple’s marketing events and Apple’s branding.”
“That’s great for Apple but the numbers are on our side,” he said.
Where to even start on this one. Ok, I’ll admit that the mainstream pretty much laps up whatever Apple serves up. However, that is most definitely not the case with the jaded, been there, done that tech press anymore. If anything, Google gets the lion’s share of favorable coverage these days due to their market share numbers, and their domination of the tech news cycle year-round, due to constant product releases.
The comment about Apple being an “exception” is actually pretty ridiculous. The tech world has plenty of very successful closed ecosystems. Amazon, Facebook, and Apple would all go into this group. And despite their previous legacy, Microsoft is definitely following the leads of the aforementioned companies toward a tighter, more closed platform. If anything, Google is looking more like the exception in the tech world, rather than Apple. I’m not denying that they are massively successful, but they are an ad company selling phones by giving away their OS. That isn’t a “common model.”
“..but the numbers are on our side”? Which numbers? Profits? Web usage share? App Sales? App Store profits? Media content available in the ecosystem? Tablet market share? Google execs love to go to the marketshare well, but when they only make an estimated $10-20 of revenue per device, what exactly does that mean?
4. “Take that Apple,” he said, adding quickly, “That was a joke by the way.” (While demoing a feature in Maps on the Nexus 7).
Yeah, right. And I though only Apple was petty. However, if you make a statement like that, you should just go ahead and go all in. This is the same guy that sat on Apple’s board during the entire planning of the iPhone, while keeping everyone in the dark that Google had shifted Android from a Blackberry competitor to go head-to-head with the iPhone, and then gave his prototype iPhone away to his girlfriend. I doubt he is still on the Christmas Card list in Cupertino, so why not just go full-bore when talking smack?
I guess none of this is a big shock. Eric Schmidt loves to talk big, which is always fun to cover and talk about. Sometimes he just leave everyone but the staunchest of Google fanboys scratching their heads. I mean, the quotes above are pretty pedestrian by his standards. Remember when the majority of HDTVs were going to be shipped with Google TV pre-installed? Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. here are a few golden nuggets from Schmidt’s ramblings past:
1. “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line but not cross it. I would argue that implanting things in your brain is beyond the creepy line. At least for the moment, until the technology gets better.” (from The Wall Street Journal’s Top 10: The Quotable Eric Schmidt)
2. “We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.” (From The State of Search, Top 15 of Eric Schmidt’s remarkable quotes)
3. “We are willing to get it one way or another, with or without deal.”
(About Facebook data in Telegraph interview- From The State of Search, Top 15 of Eric Schmidt’s remarkable quotes)
4. And here is a beautiful gem culled from AllThingsD’s Ina Fried’s liveblog of his Mobile World Congress keynote.
“You’ll be able to send a robot in your place to see your favorite rock concert.”
Wow. Just wow. You just can’t make stuff like that up!