Later, E. Schmidt August 3, 2009
So, the news is out that Eric Schmidt has resigned from Apple’s board. As soon as they announced Chrome OS it seemed like only a matter of time, but coming on the heels of the Google Voice debacle and even looking at Android, no one can claim surprise. What amazes me, though, is the naïve perspective some seem to have on the respective companies and their roles in this scenario:
Google’s increasing move into Apple’s space, and Apple’s increasing desire to control every inch of that space have not been good bedfellows. It’s hard to imagine that Apple could maintain a completely healthy relationship with a direct competitor in both the phone and OS space for very long…
Isn’t a “completely healthy relationship” one where neither company has any undue sway over or actionable insight into the motivations and plans of the other? This paints Apple as a monopolist punishing Schmidt for Google’s entry into the mobile and OS space, and I find that unrealistic. As far as I can tell, it would be completely unhealthy to maintain a position where your direct competitor has more insight into the moves you’re planning to make than most of your employees do. Competition aside, it still doesn’t make sense for Schmidt to be on the board; having him step out of any discussion where he may have a conflict of interest is an efficiency killer. Also, Google has been making daring moves into several new spaces, and the areas in which Google may come to compete are completely unforeseen. Apple’s task isn’t to appeal to fair-weather fans, it’s to protect the company’s interests, as is true of any corporation. I have difficulty seeing an alternative that doesn’t consist of Apple making a poor business decision that impedes the efficiency, equity and security of the Board of Directors. Or as Fake Steve Jobs puts it:
You sat in our meetings and learned all of our secrets. You listened to our product development plans. Then you went off and copied our products and now you’re trying to fuck me in the ear with my own ideas. …”Don’t be evil?” Is there anyone left in the entire world who still believes that?
If Steve Jobs were on Google’s Board of Directors and the same thing went down, I highly doubt Google would be perceived as a tyrant, but as a company making an appropriate decision based on the way the cards were falling. But as Gizmodo says, “Pick your sides; this should be fun.”