Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Google's Eric Schmidt joins Apple's board

Apparently Eric Schmidt of Google has joined Apple's board of directors in what I see as a very interesting move. Of course, Apple's board of directors already includes some very big names including Al Gore, and of course Steve Jobs himself. Steve Jobs highlighted Google's innovation and Schmidt's experience as the main reasons for wanting to bring him on board to help Apple in the future.

I see this as a very positive and interesting move on Apple's part. Apple and Google have always had a good relationship - Google is the default search engine in Safari, Google searches will return iTunes Music Store links, and perhaps Leopard will have Google searches integrated into Spotlight.

The biggest plus I see to this addition to the board is for the future. Both companies are aggressively innovating and releasing new products and services. Google is starting to offer a wide range of office-like web applications, from Google Calendar to Writely and Google Spreadsheet. On top of that, they have a fantastic range of downloadable apps too such as Google Earth and Picasa. One complaint I've had is that often, Mac versions of these apps are slow to be released. Hopefully with Schmidt on board, Mac and Safari compatability with Google apps and services will arrive more swiftly.

Of course, one could argue that joining the board does not necessarily make much of a difference, but given that Jobs specifically cited Google's innovation as something he wanted for Apple's future, I see this as a very deliberate move. Look at what happened when Jobs joined Disney's board - Disney owned content on the iTunes Music Store skyrocketed.

But perhaps there's more to it than that. There's been recent speculation about Jobs' health (which I wouldn't take too seriously), and one thing is clear - Jobs can't forever be at the helm at Apple. Without a figure like Jobs leading the company, with his drive and his desire for perfection and innovation, Apple wouldn't be what it is today. Any potential successor to Steve Jobs would have to be one hell of an individual, and the likes of Eric Schmidt just might be the right type to fill Jobs' enourmous shoes should the need ever arrive. I'm not saying Schmidt will take over from Jobs, I'm just saying that when the time comes for Apple to face life without Steve Jobs, a very big name would have to fill his shoes, someone perhaps, like Eric Schmidt.

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