updated 10:15 pm EDT, Tue May 31, 2011
Google shoots down talk of ending Apple
Google chief Eric Schmidt at the first D9 interview on Tuesday night shot down rumors of Apple ending their map deal. Describing the interrelationships between Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google as the "gang of four" growing the fastest in the tech industry, he revealed that Google had "just renewed" its map partnership with Apple. He would have been surprised if Apple decided to jump ship just after making a deal.
"We have a partnership with Apple, and we compete with them," Schmidt said. "We have a very, very good maps partnership and [a] search partnership."
The talk cast down near-term rumors of Apple trying to develop a completely self-contained mapping system following its acquisitions of Placebase and Poly9. While it didn't rule out the prospects, the discussion suggested Apple's moves were to improve the interface around Google's maps rather than change the maps themselves.
Schmidt also used a question on privacy to defend against accusations by Steve Jobs that Google was intrusive on privacy. Responding to Jobs' assertion that Android was a "probe in your pocket," he stressed not just that the information was opt-in and anonymized but that the data wasn't used to feed Google's search business. "We don't take the information that your phone generates about your location and suck it into search," he said.
The former CEO and now executive chairman of Google also used the presentation as an opportunity to contrast Apple and Google design philosophies. Apple makes "very beautiful" products, but it was designing for a closed system of a "set size and share," he explained. Google was the inverse of that and had "made a decision not to curate" in the name of getting a larger slice of the industry.
When asked about what platform he would write for if he were a small developer besides Android and iOS, Schmidt argued that there often wasn't a third choice. Apple's closed code meant you couldn't port code over easily or use certain things you already had, such as a browser. Developers had to write an iOS app and then support everything else. This often didn't leave enough resources for a third platform.
Some value was in RIM's BlackBerry, where there were "specialized markets" mostly in the enterprise. Nokia and Microsoft were uncertain, since Nokia had effectively ended Symbian and Windows Phone was untested.