Enough is enough. It’s time for Eric Schmidt to resign from Apple’s board. Sure, Apple (s aapl) and Google (s goog) have a common enemy in Microsoft, (s msft) so at one time it made sense for Google CEO Eric Schmidt to have a seat on Apple’s board of directors. But Apple and Google are competing on more and more fronts, Android and Chrome OS being among the most prominent examples.
The FTC apparently agrees, as it’s reportedly looking into whether the fact that Schmidt sits on Apple’s board is anticompetitive. When news of the inquiry was first reported back in May, Schmidt told reporters that he didn’t think “Google [saw] Apple as a primary competitor.” In Sun Valley yesterday, following the Chrome OS announcement, Schmidt said, “I’ll talk to the Apple people. At the moment, there’s no issue.” Google’s general counsel, meanwhile, has argued that there’s a “safe harbor” provision in the antitrust laws for companies that don’t have overlapping revenue.
Well, Google doesn’t really make any revenue outside of advertising, so there’s no risk of overlap there. But they are competing with the following:
- Android vs. iPhone
- Google Chrome OS vs. Mac OS X
- Chrome vs. Safari
- Gmail vs. MobileMe
- Picasa vs. iPhoto/MobileMe
- Google Calendar vs. iCal
- Google Docs vs. iWork.com
Schmidt began recusing himself from meetings at which the iPhone was being discussed after Google launched Android. Does that mean he’s going to start recusing himself from meetings at which the topic is Mac OS X? Or Apple’s Internet strategy? So what’s the point of him being a director? (C/Net has made these points in a post last week. Fake Steve Jobs does a great job of breaking things down in a classic and must read post.)
Come on, Apple. Being friendly with other companies is all well and good — but by having Schmidt on the company’s board, Apple is opening itself up to more antitrust inquires from an unfriendly Department of Justice and the FTC (even if Google and Apple employees overwhelmingly donated to the Obama campaign). Eric Schmidt, it’s time to go.
Or just merge the companies and get it over with. Goople has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
Photo courtesy World Economic Forum