Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned from his post on Apple's board of directors due to what Apple called a conflict of interest.
The amicable break-up of Schmidt and Apple makes sense as Google and Apple, which once peacefully co-existed, are butting heads on more and more battlefields. As the two tech powerhouses continue to bump up against each other in new markets and become direct competitors, Schmidt took the high road and exited stage left from a post he had held since 2006. Schmidt had become noticeably absent from the board of late, excusing himself from meetings where Google vs. Apple competition talks could come into play.
So with Schmidt's departure now set in stone, here are five reasons Schmidt had to leave his seat on the Apple board of directors.
1. Apple's rejection of Google Voice from the App Store: Last week, word got out that Apple rejected a Google Voice application that Google had submitted for inclusion in Apple's widely popular iPhone App Store. Google Voice, which already has applications available for BlackBerry and Google Android smartphones, offers users a free phone number that can be used to make them reachable via single-number dialing on any phone, including their smartphone. The Google Voice service also offers free domestic calls, cheaper long-distance calls and advanced call-screening features, as well as free SMS messages, voice mail and speech-to-text conversion of incoming voice mails. The FCC is now looking into Google Voice's rejection from the Apple App Store and what role AT&T played in it getting deep-sixed, as Google Voice offers some services for free that AT&T currently charges for on the Apple iPhone. Schmidt, who has excused himself from all Apple board discussions around the iPhone, may have seen this as a wake-up call that the competition between the two companies is a bigger conflict than before.
2. The iPhone vs. Google Android rivalry is heating up: The Apple iPhone is still one of the most swiftly selling smartphones in history, but Google Android, Google's open-source mobile operating system, is still a strong contender in the market. Since its official launch last October, Android has popped up on only a handful of devices, but that is about to change as companies like Motorola, Samsung and a host of others latch onto Google Android in hopes of turning around slumping smartphone sales. And while it may only be a fraction of a percentage, Google Android is chipping away at some of Apple's iPhone market share. The fact that the two will continue to compete head-to-head instead of co-existing peacefully may have helped drive Schmidt's decision to step down from Apple's board.
3. Let's not forget Apple's App Store vs. Android Market: This budding rivalry between Google and Apple is different than just the iPhone vs. Android battle. Apple has proven its mobile application store dominance with more than 1.5 billion applications downloaded from its iPhone App Store, more than 65,000 available applications and more than 100,00 application developers. And while Android currently doesn't boast the numbers, it's making an attempt and trying to lure developers over it its side to bolster the Google Android market. When two companies are already starting to compete in the smartphone game, adding competing application stores to the mix strengthens the blow.
4. Both Google and Apple are entrenched in the Web browser game: Apple's Safari browser is well established in the market. And late last year Google got in on the browser act with Chrome, its own Web browser. While there is always room for more Web browsers, Safari vs. Chrome was just another competitive factor weighing on Schmidt as he held prominent posts in both companies. Google said that Chrome, which launched about nine months ago, has about 30 million regular users, which is sure to take a bite out of Apple's Safari.
5. Apple and Google will also soon compete in the OS market, too: As if Apple and Google weren't competing in enough areas, word surfaced that Google is trying to turn Chrome from just a simple Web browser into its own operating system. Just this month Google said Chrome has been enhanced and unveiled plans for Chrome to become a full-fledged OS by the second half of 2010. That would put Google in an OS war with Apple and its Mac OS X, which runs on Apple's hardware and is getting an update with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard coming soon.