Eric Schmidt: Apple versus Google is mobile’s ‘defining’ fight

Google’s tensions with Apple will only escalate as the search giant predicts that more than a billion mobile devices will run its Android software within a year, the company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, said.

He called it the “defining fight” in the industry that has not seen anything on this scale before.

Schmidt told Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg in an onstage interview in New York on Wednesday that there were already four times as many Android mobile devices as Apple devices.

While painful for the industry, Schmidt said the standoff between Google and Apple is benefiting consumers with lower prices.


He declined to discuss the courtroom battles over patents, the details of which he said he didn’t understand well enough. But he said these sorts of battles are killing innovation.

“These patent wars are death,” Schmidt said.

Not that long ago, the dueling technology giants were allies. Schmidt served on Apple’s board while he was Google’s chief executive. But Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was angered by the swift rise of Google’s Android mobile software, which he saw as a potent threat to the lucrative iPhone and iPad businesses that Apple built.

That fight has played out as a – at least temporary – detriment to iPhone users. Apple removed YouTube from its preloaded apps and replaced Google’s maps with its own flawed service.

Schmidt said that Apple should not have removed maps.

“I think Apple has learned that maps are hard,” he said. “We invested hundreds of millions of dollars in satellite work, airplane work, drive-by work.”

So will Google make a new maps app for Apple devices?

“I don’t want to pre-announce products, but I can tell you that, were we to do that, Apple would have to approve it,” he said.

Google on Thursday expanded its Street View maps feature to include updated images of roadways and popular tourist attractions in the U.S. and several other countries.


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