Google chief takes a bite of Apple

30 Aug 2006

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt has been elected to Apple Computer’s board of directors in a move that signals an impending alliance between the two companies.

Both companies have an unyielding focus on research and development.

Schmidt, who also sits on the board of trustees at Princeton University, has a 20-year track record in the technology industry and has gained a towering reputation as a strategist, entrepreneur and technologist.

“Eric is obviously doing a terrific job as CEO of Google and we look forward to his contributions as a member of Apple’s board of directors,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

“Like Apple, Google is very focused on innovation and we think Eric’s insights and experience will be very valuable in helping to guide Apple in the years ahead,” Jobs added.

Apple, which prides itself on having ignited the personal computing revolution in the Seventies with the introduction of the Apple II, today is synonymous with digital music with its iPod music and video player and its iTunes music download service.

Schmidt’s strategic insight may prove invaluable in the years ahead. The company appears to be preparing itself to be assailed on all sides in the heady digital music market in which it has established a firm lead.

Microsoft has aligned itself with Toshiba to unleash an iPod rival in the form of the Zune media player. Record label Universal will later this year launch Spiral Frog to vie with iTunes for music downloads. Spiral Frog will allow users to download their music for free and will make its money back on advertising.

Schmidt betrayed no concerns about strategy when explaining his views on the new appointment. “Apple is one of the companies in the world that I most admire,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to working with Steve and Apple’s board to help with all of the amazing things Apple is doing.”

Schmidt joined Google from Novell, where he was chairman and CEO. Prior to joining Novell, he was chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems Inc, where he led the development of Java, Sun’s platform-independent programming technology, and defined Sun’s internet software strategy. Before joining Sun in 1983, he was a member of the research staff at the Computer Science Lab at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and held positions at Bell Laboratories and Zilog.

By John Kennedy