Google’s Schmidt: Our Relationship with Apple Has “Always Been On and Off”

The Wall Street Journal reports on an interview they had with Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt. Part of the interview included questions about their relationship with Apple.

Schmidt agreed with the WSJ assessment that Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook can be known as the “Gang of Four” companies that matter the most today in consumer technology.

When asked about his relationship with Apple?

WSJ: How has Google’s relationship with Apple changed in the past year?

Mr. Schmidt: It’s always been on and off. Obviously, we would have preferred them to use our maps. They threw YouTube off the home screen [of iPhones and iPads]. I’m not quite sure why they did that.

The press would like to write the sort of teenage model of competition, which is, ‘I have a gun, you have a gun, who shoots first?’

The adult way to run a business is to run it more like a country. They have disputes, yet they’ve actually been able to have huge trade with each other. They’re not sending bombs at each other.

I think both Tim [Cook, Apple’s CEO] and Larry [Page, Google’s CEO], the sort of successors to Steve [Jobs] and me if you will, have an understanding of this state model. When they and their teams meet, they have just a long list of things to talk about.

The WSJ also asks Google if they are discussing a patent-related settlement with Apple. Schmidt replies “It’s extremely curious that Apple has chosen to sue Google’s partners and not Google itself.”

As for the endgame of all these patent lawsuits? Here’s what Schmidt had to say:

WSJ: What’s the endgame of all of this patent litigation?

Mr. Schmidt: It’ll continue for a while. Google is doing fine. Apple is doing fine. Let me tell you the loser here.

There’s a young [Android co-founder] Andy Rubin trying to form a new version of Danger [the smartphone company Mr. Rubin co-founded before Android]. How is he or she going to be able to get the patent coverage necessary to offer version one of their product? That’s the real consequence of this.

In the past Schmidt has claimed Apple is suing instead of innovating and also Android efforts started before the iPhone (he was formerly on the board of directors at Apple). Schmidt was also vocal before when it came to Apple and Google Maps, as he claimed the company should have kept the latter instead of creating their own.

Nobody wins when it comes to these patent lawsuits (except the lawyers). But at the end of the day, companies need to protect their creations and inventions.

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