Google Loves The iPhone, But Google’s Eric Schmidt Won’t “Talk” About It

MacWorld starts today in San Francisco, and there probably won’t be any announcement to equal the iPhone, which continues to reverberate across the mobile landscape. Google, in particular, continues to reap dividends from its suite of iPhone apps, a new version of which is launching today according to both the NY Times and CNet. The apps suite, internally called “Grand Prix,” will reportedly include new, even more iPhone-optimized Gmail, Picasa, Reader, Calendar, etc. (iGoogle for the iPhone launched last week). The CNet article also indicates that Google Gears is coming to the iPhone in the near future.

The NY Times piece also reports that Google, which has seen mobile traffic grow dramatically since the iPhone’s mid-2007 introduction, saw traffic spike again on Christmas:

On Christmas, traffic to Google from iPhones surged, surpassing incoming traffic from any other type of mobile device, according to internal Google data made available to The New York Times. A few days later, iPhone traffic to Google fell below that of devices powered by the Nokia-backed Symbian operating system but remained higher than traffic from any other type of cellphone.

Thus, Google is arguably one of the primary beneficiaries of the iPhone’s best-of-class mobile user experience.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt is a member of the Apple board and was on stage last year for the iPhone’s introduction. Schmidt is apparently recusing himself now entirely from iPhone discussions in Apple board meetings because of a conflict of interest, according to TechCrunch (repeating a discussion from the New Yorker):

Google may wind up bumping into its corporate ally Apple. Although the iPhone features Google Maps and Google search, Google wants to create an operating system for mobile phones the way Apple has—a potential conflict. Four of Apple’s eight directors are either Google directors or Google senior advisers. One of the Apple directors is Eric Schmidt, who now recuses himself from mobile-phone discussions at Apple board meetings.

As TechCrunch and Valleywag point out, this conflict is a potentially big problem for Apple. Eventually it will need to be addressed.

At the moment in mobile, Google needs Apple more than the other way around. It’s not clear that Google’s Android will succeed like the iPhone. In theory, Android is competitive; whether it actually can compete in practice remains to be seen, when the first Android phones come out later this year.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Google: Mobile

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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