Eric Schmidt talks Apple, Maps, patents, and says the Android-iOS platform fight is "defining"

Eric Schmidt talks Apple, Maps, and says the Android-iOS platform fight is

Eric Schmidt, the former Apple board member, Google CEO, and current Google Executive Chairman, has once again given his thoughts on the current relationship between Google and Apple, including patents Apple’s current mapping woes. In a sit down with the All Things D's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, Schmidt opined that Apple should have kept Google Maps, and that Apple was now discovering that maps are difficult work.

The Android-Apple platform fight is the defining contest. Here’s why: Apple has thousands of developers building for it. Google’s platform, Android, is even larger. Four times more Android phones than Apple phones. 500 million phones already in use. Doing 1.3 million activations a day. We’ll be at 1 billion mobile devices in a year.

We’ve not seen network platform fights at this scale. The beneficiary is you all, the customer, globally. “This is wonderful.”

Of course, iOS is installed on, at any given time, three models of iPhone, the current model and the previous two generations, while Android powers most of the phones from Samsung, HTC, Motorola, etc. So of course there are going to be more Android phones than iPhones. That’s just common sense.

Speaking about patents, Mr. Schmidt expressed frustration at patent wars, and the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent fighting patent trolls. When asked about the Apple/Samsung trial in particular, Mr. Schmidt wouldn’t comment directly, though he did offer up an opinion that companies like Google and Apple were not victims in these patent conflicts, but rather it’s the smaller companies, those that can’t get patents in order to defend themselves, that are really in trouble.

Other topics touched on include Facebook, China, and Google’s self-driving cars. The whole interview is interesting and illuminating, and should be read in it’s entirety.

Source: All Things D

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is a news reporter for iMore. He's also chilling out and having a sandwich.

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There are 24 comments. Add yours.

tomhoward says:

"Android powers most of the phones from Samsung, HTC, Motorola, etc. So of course there are going to be more Android phones than iPhones. That’s just common sense."

Vox says:

Apple isn't terrorized by a platform that earns 25% of the money while they (Apple) earn the other 75%. Nothing else matters when we are talking about for-proffit companies.

Dev from tipb says:

Balderdash. We old farts who say words like "balderdash" remember when people around Cupertino talked about "55" (referring to Apple's then margin goals for the Mac line) and bragged about their profits compared to peecee clones. More recently, it was not too long ago when RIM similarly dominated the profits of the smartphone industry. Current profit positions are ephemeral if they blind you to making changes, or make you too comfortable to be afraid. If Apple is not terrorized, then they are fools.

Vox says:

Uhm...I may actually be older than you, being as I remember a time when Apple didn't exist, but that's neither here nor there. Taking lightly a competing platform and not being terrorized by it are different animals. Apple doesn't take Android lightly...if it did, it wouldn't be suing them for everything they can...but they aren't terrorised, if they where, iPhone 5 would be a 4.7" screen with multizillion cores and would allow sideloading without jailbreaking. What they are doing is making a phone that has better sales than every single android phone out there (not all of them combined, but every single one by its own) and kicking their ass in profitability-per-unit too.

Dev from tipb says:

We are largely arguing over semantics -- you equate terrorized with a panicked, unthinking overreactions. I don't, but I can see how somebody would. (I would argue that the lawsuits are themselves panicked overreaction, but that is a can of worms not worth opening here - we can wait until Rene's next article specifically on patents :))

Of more substance, you imply that Apple's enviable profits may be a reason not to fear at all, and I think that any company, no matter how profitable, should on some level fear its competitors.

I think we both agree Apple maintains at least a healthy level of fear for Android, as they should.

Vox says:

I agree that it's over semantics mostly.

Terror implies unthinking reactions fueled by adrenalin, by definition :) Apple doesn't do that even when they should.

As for the lawsuits...nah, don't want to go there either...I'm a Lawful Neutral, so if you have patents and they are legal, I'm all for using them to destroy the competition...but I also think that the world's patent system is the stupidest thing humans have invented since the creation of cure-by-bleeding.

As for fear...yes, I think Apple has healthy fear of Android (and WinPho and even BB10), and keeps doing things to keep them at bay...Apple has never needed a dominant market position, it just needs to dominate the niche that actually has the profits, and that's what they keep defending.

prlundberg says:

Terrorizing was iMore's wording, so we shouldn't get hung up on that.

The thing is, Apple really doesn't have a "niche". The Galaxy Note is a niche. The Casio Commando is a niche. The iPhone doesn't really do anything other phones can't do. Their profit comes from a variety of factors, including but not limited to their initial foothold on the market, their single-device business model, and simplistic and efficient OS. These factors allow them to have success with hardware that is not bleeding edge as much of the competition is, as well as realizing better economies of scale. Oh and charging people about 2-4 times the going rate for memory upgrades helps as well. That is how they manage to turn such a good profit. They need good marketshare and high volumes compared to the competition to maintain that profit.

Vox says:

2-4 times memory upgrades? Uh? We are talking phones here...if you mean computers, yes, I agree...but phones? Not really.

And yes, they need good marketshare...but they don't need to be the dominant monster in marketshare...just the dominant monster of the big profit marketshare, which isn't the same thing at all...and they are.

prlundberg says:

OK, I'll admit I was wrong. Or maybe "upgrades" was just a poor choice of words. A 32GB iPhone 5 costs $100 more than the 16GB version. That is $100 for 16GB as there are no other differences in the phones. You can buy a 16GB MicroSDHC card for under $7 on Amazon.

That means Apple is actually charging about about 14 times the going rate for memory, not 2-4. Sorry about that. My point remains though.

I like iPhones. But it's precisely because of things like this that I will never ever buy another Apple product, and why Android has grown so rapidly. There's not going to be a "big profit market" at all if things continue on the same path over the next few years. No market bears a huge profit manufacturer for an extended period. Premium, yes. Huge profit, never. When profits are fat competition will come.

Vox says:

Ok, now I understand what you are talking about. And yes, the steps in $ between the different storage sizes are high, on that we agree. Tho 2x is the correct number, at least when comparing it with other phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S2...that one is 50 bucks to go from 16 to 32 (couldn't find if there is a 64 model or its price if there .mx we only got the 16 and 32).

if things continue on the same path over the next few years, we are gonna end up with a 50/50 market, with everybody else (winphone and RIM and whatever there is left) dead. Trends point that way, at least.

As for huge profit vs. premium...uhm...Apple can get a huge profit *because* they are the Premium I said in other thread here, my iphones (I've had a 3G, a 3GS and a 4, and will be in line the day the 5 comes out in .mx) have never squeaked when Galaxy S2 did.

So, by your own words, at least it being the premium product won't be why Apple dies (all companies go up and down, it's the nature of the beast...I just think Apple is still going up).

Carioca32 says:

"Of course, iOS is installed on, at any given time, three models of iPhone ... So of course there are going to be more Android phones than iPhones. That’s just common sense."

No, that's just a lame attempt to justify unflattering statistics. Apple sells more tablets than everybody else combined, if the iPhone was really dominant it would do the same.

Wildo6882 says:

Haha. That was my exact thought on that. Android completely dominates the phone market. iOS completely dominates the tablet market. There are a million (not really, but you get the point) Android tablets on the market and the iPad dwarfs them all combined in total sales. It's kind of Apple's M.O. to spin the statistics and the facts to benefit themselves. I love iOS and Apple products, but if you don't think they're getting stale and complacent, then you're iBlind.

Vox says:

Look at the numbers that *actually* matter...Apple keeps 75% of the global smartphone profits, android and winphone and RIM share the other, Apple isn't the dominant monster in phones, just the one who earns the most money, by far.

Wildo6882 says:

That may be the bottom line of what you think *actually* matters. But with all of the cheap Android phones, be it on carriers, StraightTalk, etc., means more people have access to the Google Play store and access to apps, movies, etc. from Google. And that means more money for Google. Not necessary cash flow from just handsets. How many free iPhones are out there on carriers? Now look at how many free, or under $50 Android phones there are out there. That means that many more people have access to Google's services, and in turn, that means more money for Google.

I understand that the statistics can be spun from many angles, but I was referring to that comment made in the article. It absolutely was an attempt to spin unflattering comments in Apple's favor.

I have an iPhone 5. I've had a 4S and a 4 before this one. Like I said, I love Apple's products. The smoothness and simplicity is great. But I've also used an SGS3 and other Android phones and they're just as smooth and provide a great deal more options and features. Apple needs to adjust to the market, in my opinion. What has really changed or progressed with iOS since the 4 was introduced? Nothing out of this world revolutionary. There needs to be something or Android will not only dominate the amount of phones sold, but also those numbers that actually matter in the not so distant future.

Vox says: do realize we are talking about a for-profit company, right? whose only reason to exist from the legal standpoint (let's leave everything else outside, like the fact that it's a company made because of love of computing and so on and so forth) is to make a profit for its shareholders...profit *is* the only number that matters in the end.

As money for google...uhm...about 80% of their mobile profit used to come from apple (not anymore, obviously) having a huge marketshare means nothing where it matters, the bottom line. (

Google is going for the Microsoft revenue model, except they are giving their OS away for free, and their OEMs are all dieing, except Samsung, and they are all paying money to Microsoft instead of Google, for the privilege of using Android. Yes, Microsoft has more profits than Google for each android phone sold.

As for revolutionary developments....nope, They've always worked the same revolutionary product (ipod, iphone, ipad, macbook air) then incremental advancements for years to come, before introducing a new revolutionary product that kills everybody, including their own products (the iphone is killing the iPod). BTW, that dieing product, the ipod, is still the #1 non-phone media player in the world, by profit.

And I've not used an S3, just an S2, and the HW was garbage (you squeeze it and it squeaks! cheap plastic and cheap construction) and the OS was laggy as hell. And no, I haven't used Jelly Bean...wasn't available for S2 (is it available yet?) when I gave it away.

In other words...nah.

prlundberg says:

Yep, nothing matters but profit. It doesn't matter if you fall behind the competition in technology and marketshare so long as you are still selling more and more phones .

By the way, how's RIM doing these days? I recall that company making those very claims just what, three years ago was it? I haven't paid much attention I guess since I got rid of my Bold.

Vox says:

In which way is Apple behind the competition? Build quality? OS upgradeability? quality of their screens? quality of their components?

They've got (and always have) the best built phones in the business.
Their 3yo+ phones all are supported in their latest OS.
Retina displays *still* kill everybody else (Pentile screen are junk, no matter the resolution).
And the iphone 5 is the fastest phone in the world, according to benchmarks.

Where is the iphone behind?

Taz89 says:

Had an s2 international version... Build was top notch with no creaks.. Yes the shell is plastic but the actual frame is magnesium metal so it was really sturdy..lag really I had that phone for a whole year and did not see any lag in day to day usage... We're there games that lagged or stutterd? Yes but that could be down to the games not being optimised and we're usually graphic intensive games such as nova 3...For general use ie browsing, casual games like temple run, videos etc the s2 had no such lag for me... I currently have the s3 and the performance all round is great.

Vox says:

I had the international version of the S2 also, being as I am in .mx....and mine squeaked if I squeezed it firmly, probably from lateral movement of the shell, not pressing the shell into the phone.

And as for was laggier than my iphone 4 (yes, a 4, not a 4S) when playing simple stuff like Angry Birds and Plants v. Zombies...not brutal lag, but noticeable all the same, specially when compared with my iphone 4. With those games, response was more on par with what you'd get from a 3GS than from a 4 or newer iphone.

prlundberg says:

Actually, iPad does not "dwarf them all" in combined sales of Android tablets. A year ago they did. Not anymore. iPads were just over half the market prior to the Nexus 7 and new Fires coming out, both of which are selling well. I'd suspect Apple's share is still falling, and I'd be willing to bet the same thing will happen in tablets that's happened with phones. It's inevitable given their closed business model.

BoondMarh says:

Not only that, please compare the statistics of actual Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean android users to the amount of users using iOS 5 or iOS 6...

Less than 1 in 5 Android devices are actually using the latest OS, and less than 5% of all Android devices are even using the latest version.

If you go to the Google Play store, you'll see thousands and thousands of reviews and complaints about incompatibility, the fractured and split OS versions etc.

Also, keep in mind, the majority of Android devices are "android-powered". Very few to no devices actually run the stock OS that google develops. The rest is HTC Sense powered by Android, Samsung Touchwiz powered by Samsung. They are so completely different from one another.

Compare the actual users of iOS6 to actual users of stock Ice Cream or Jelly Bean android.

prlundberg says:

1.3 million activations per day is a staggering number.

MickeyBlue-Eyes says:

Eric Schmidt, aka Karl Rove, aka Rupert Murdoch has some GIANT BALLS! It's amazing he thinks him or his former company had anything to do with the success of Android. He was at a Board Meeting when iOS was shown to him, and then went straight back to his office told them to make the same thing. He's a pathetic man.

Carioca32 says:

You've just described the birth of the Mac. Does that makes Steve Jobs a pathetic man or a visionary?