Consumer Watchdog Urges Levinson to Choose: Apple or Google?


As we reported here yesterday, Apple announced Eric Schmidt resigned from its Board of Directors. The announcement really came as no surprise; Schmidt is the CEO of Google, a software giant that, for the last few years, has been inching inexorably into Apple’s desktop and mobile territories.

So it should also come as no surprise that Consumer Watchdog is now calling for another of Apple’s board of directors, this time Arthur D. Levinson to follow Schmidt’s example.

Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization. Group member John M. Simpson writes:

“It took Eric Schmidt far to [sic] long too [sic] realize that the two roles are incompatible; that’s not surprising considering the clubby atmosphere of Silicon Valley. Nonetheless, we’re glad Schmidt finally did the right thing; we call on Levinson to act responsibly and choose one company or the other.”

Levinson’s a busy guy. Besides sitting on Apple’s Board of Directors, he also has a seat on Google’s board. In April, he was appointed chairman of the board at Genentech. He’s also a member of the Jedi High Council. (No, that one’s a lie, but it wouldn’t surprise me…)

Simpson reports Genentech has ties with Google beyond sharing a senior executive.

It is an investor, with Google, in the direct-to-consumer genetic testing company, 23andMe, run by Anne Wojcicki. She is the wife of Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder.

Simpson reminds readers that the Federal Trade Commission has, “for several months,” been investigating Apple and Google for violating antitrust laws by sharing directors.

Schmidt never had a chance — he had to step down sooner or later. But Levinson could surely get out of this one:

Levinson: You don’t need to investigate us.

FTC: We don’t need to investigate you.

Levinson: This is not the antitrust case you’re looking for.

FTC: This is not the antitrust case we’re looking for.

Levinson (indicates Jobs): He can go about his business.

FTC: You can go about your business.

Levinson: Now move along.

FTC: Move along, move along…

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.


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