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Google CEO Schmidt: Enjoyed Working With Yahoo; Microsoft Wants To Deprive Consumers Of Choice

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Don’t wait until 4:00 PM (ET) to get Eric Schmidt’s views on Microsoft-Yahoo and Google’s (NSDQ: GOOG) declining rate of growth. Schmidt was interviewed by Maria Bartiromo at the Milken Institute Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton on a number of subjects, and though the interview didn’t break much news, at least we know that Schmidt isn’t toning down his rhetoric on a possible transaction. From the transcript:

Yahoo ad deal: “Well, the long and short of it is that we did a test for about two weeks, which has since ended, where Yahoo! took a small percentage of their ads and replaced them by ours. We did this as part of a commercial conversation, which I obviously cannot go into, but it’s one of the strategic options that we believe Yahoo! is considering at this time… we actually enjoyed working with Yahoo! (NSDQ: YHOO). We also compete with them. They’re a well run and, I think, impressive company.”

MSFT-YHOO: “If they go ahead and the merger’s ultimately successful, it would be possible for Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) to integrate some of the properties and essentially eliminate consumer choice, particularly in electronic mail, instant messaging, the things where they have 80 or 90 percent market share, and that’s a sweet spot for Microsoft in its ability to eliminate choice.” And there’s no need to worry about any of Google’s presque-monopolies: “Well, Google is actually trying to be an innovator, and we’re always concerned about competition.” So that allays that fear.

YouTube: It’s still not material, but even if they dominate the market, they’re still innovating: “We believe the best products are coming out this year. And they’re new products. They’re not announced. They’re not just putting in-line ads in the things that people are trying.”

Slowing growth: There’s no need to be shocked at Google’s slowing growth because it’s a mature company: “Globally, of course, we had good growth, and the US numbers are masked by the fact that, a year ago, we had a very strong quarterly growth of that quarter. So the real growth rate in the US is good, although overall growth rates are slowing, as they have for years. Just because of the scale and size of what we operate.” Hats off to Dr. Schmidt for not saying the oft-misused phrase “law of large numbers.”