Schmidt, who joined Google in 2001, has served Apple’s board since August 2006.
A statement from Apple fully acknowledges that the two companies are increasingly competing in the same spaces, particularly with Google’s Android-powered phones and upcoming Chrome OS taking on the iPhone and Macs, respectively.
“Unfortunately, as Google enters more of Apple’s core businesses . . . Eric’s effectiveness as an Apple Board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest,” Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said. “Therefore, we have mutually decided that now is the right time for Eric to resign his position on Apple’s Board.”
It’s hard to imagine many situations in which Schmidt wouldn’t recuse himself during an Apple board meeting. In addition to competing on handset and computer operating systems, the companies also butt heads on applications such as Web browsers (Chrome and Safari), productivity software (iWork vs. Google Docs and other apps) and video services (YouTube and iTunes), among others. Regardless of whether the shared board members violates the law, Apple is better served with a board member who can actually participate.
With Apple and Google pushing away from each other, the question now is whether we’ll see more bad blood between the two companies. Google has recently begun sniping at Microsoft in an ad campaign. Apple could be next.
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