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Chrome OS raises directorship questions

Chrome OS raises directorship questions

The new Google Chrome operating system might be the straw that breaks Schmidt's back and forces his resignation from Apple.

The surprise announcement of Google's Linux-based operating system – dubbed Chrome OS – has lead to calls for Eric Schmidt to step down from his role on Apple's board.

According to an article by CNet's Tom Krazit, Schmidt's position on Apple's board of directors represents a conflict of interest which can only be resolved with Schmidt leaving one company or the other.

While Google was offering purely web-based functionality – search engines, document collaboration – it made sense that it was able to work hand in hand with Apple, with the two company's offerings complementing each other. After all, a computer offering easy Internet access isn't much good without an easy way of finding content on the web.

The first rumblings of discontent arrived, however, with the launch of Google's Android platform for smartphones – and the T-Mobile G1 which first brought it to market. Now, the two companies were competing in the smartphone market head to head – and Schmidt was still on the board of both companies.

Now the a new battleground has been selected: operating systems. While it's not a direct competition as yet – with Chrome OS being directed at the netbook market which Apple is so disparaging towards – it's becoming increasingly apparent to many in the industry that Schmidt's presence at both companies is, at least, uncomfortable.

It's not just industry watchers who are getting the impression that Schmidt might be playing both sides of the field: back in May the US Federal Trade Commission investigated the ties between both companies – specifically, the shared directorships enjoyed by Eric Schmidt and Arthur Levinson. Now the two companies are clearly in competition, the FTC may rule under a 1914 law – which prevents a person from being on the board of two separate companies with a view to colluding to reduce competition in the marketplace – that Levinson and Schmidt need to resign one or the other posts.

Do you think that Apple and Google are now competing strongly enough for a shared directorship to be questionable, or should Schmidt be left alone to bring his expertise to both companies? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

18 Comments

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mjm25 9th July 2009, 12:48 Quote
well he looks pretty terrifying, if nothing else
fodder 9th July 2009, 12:54 Quote
Um, I may be missing something here, but aren't both Android and Chrome open source? How does this reduce competition? (over) pay for apple products or dl googles for free.
ImInTheZoneBaby 9th July 2009, 12:57 Quote
When I heard of the Chrome OS, I never thought to myself: "Oh now that Google is on the scene, Apple better watch its back."

I don't think they're REALLY that competitive toward eachother. I think most people looked toward Microsoft rather than Apple.
PT88 9th July 2009, 13:41 Quote
thought that said Dictatorship for a moment...
Phil Rhodes 9th July 2009, 14:07 Quote
A Chrome OS might have two effects:

- Making linux usable for normal people, and
- Providing a properly-organised and well-directed management structure for turning Linux into what we all hope it can be.

This would be great, but it depends heavily on what Google's intentions are.
decromin 9th July 2009, 14:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ImInTheZoneBaby
When I heard of the Chrome OS, I never thought to myself: "Oh now that Google is on the scene, Apple better watch its back."

I don't think they're REALLY that competitive toward eachother. I think most people looked toward Microsoft rather than Apple.

Why? If google is pitching this as an easy way to get the quick start, user friendly, virus free kinda market, why would that not appeal to possible Apple buyers? Or are they truely that shallow that the brand outweighs the benefits to them?
wbdog206 9th July 2009, 15:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by PT88
thought that said Dictatorship for a moment...

Thats what I thought at first to.
proxymoron 9th July 2009, 16:05 Quote
Seeing as Apple don't allow their OS to be installed on anything but Apple hardware, and the Google OS is intended for netbooks, none of which are made or endorsed by Apple, I can't see how this is a conflict of interest - unless one of those things changes.
splashdream 9th July 2009, 17:12 Quote
Now that Google has demonstrated and announced that they are moving into the OS market place, even if it is open source, neither individual has a case to keep the directorship in tact. Doing so would put both companies at risk from many perspectives. This alone would be enough in most organizations to call for there resignation due to conflict of interest.

For me the biggest question is: how much of the knowledge gained in his term on the Apple board has been passed along to this new OS's management and development teams? My guess is going to be "more than google wants to admit and more than apple would normally allow".
Sir Digby 10th July 2009, 02:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by PT88
thought that said Dictatorship for a moment...

I managed to read the whole article, then the forum posts up to yours before realizing :( time for sleep I think.
War-Rasta 10th July 2009, 16:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by proxymoron
Seeing as Apple don't allow their OS to be installed on anything but Apple hardware, and the Google OS is intended for netbooks, none of which are made or endorsed by Apple, I can't see how this is a conflict of interest - unless one of those things changes.

They still compete. Even if netbooks are not the main threat for Apple it still could persuade an X amount of possible buyers into getting something else. If you're in the market for a new computer, but you don't know much about them, you might be attracted by a Mac due to it's looks, sales pitch or whatever reason; but if along comes a person with a cheaper product that will allow them to do what they need the will go for that.

I know it's not the biggest threat to Apple, but it's still a competitor. Besides, who knows what might become of the Chrome OS in the future. Maybe by 2015 the world will be using it even more than windows...
Cupboard 10th July 2009, 17:14 Quote
I think the competition of the Android lineup of phones to the iPhone is far greater than this but I can see that, as people above have said, it could be the thin end of the wedge.
dyzophoria 10th July 2009, 20:21 Quote
i still have to see how google will pull this off though i like the idea of competitions on the OS market, honestly ubuntu really had the promise of a better linux based OS for the masses , yet still embracing it still was a little slow, even with the name "Google" now attached to an OS I still has the "to see is to believe" stand at the moment, nevertheless on the MS side, this will also force them to further ramp up development on their end; and honestly too they are pulling such a feat itself on the development of 7 from vista and xp imho. though I like what im seeing... more competition is a plus for advancement in the OS side :D
B3CK 11th July 2009, 07:03 Quote
When a beta comes out,, I'm gonna pull out some broken apples under my work-desk and try to install.
With what has appeared to me as good business sense by apple by charging premium for everything they brand, I'm super surprised to hear of these two guys working both sides of the table between these companies. I can see both companies prospering off of the colloboration between the two, but with apple's mantra of "Its the business of a business to make money", and google's "do no harm", I don't see how this partnership could keep the net neutral, as I would want it to be.
I'm not one to jump ship at the smell of smoke, but this defiantly makes me weary of the chrome os. Defiantly gonna want to get a lay-mans' breakdown of the fine print on the chrome os eula.
jjsyht 12th July 2009, 20:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Digby
I managed to read the whole article, then the forum posts up to yours before realizing :( time for sleep I think.

x2...
leslie 12th July 2009, 22:04 Quote
Considering I-Phone is a modified OSX, this shows it could be ported easily to a netbook in the future if Apple were so inclined.

Apple never comments on upcoming products, and considering how bit netbooks are and their ties to Nvidia and Intel, there is no reason they can't make one and are likely planning one. This would put them in direct competition.
Nicholas 13th July 2009, 14:16 Quote
What would be nice is if he put off resigning from either company - -then decided to resign and go to just one and neither company wanted them back lol.
leslie 13th July 2009, 20:30 Quote
Rumors are now starting to circulate about a 10in. $500-$600(usd) Mac tablet/netbook.

This would put them in direct fire with Google.
http://apple.slashdot.org/story/09/07/13/1229250/What-To-Expect-From-Apples-Rumored-MacPad?art_pos=10
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