Speaking today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt deflected suggestions that Google is in competition with the likes of Apple and Facebook, and rejected speculation that those fights are the real reason that Larry Page is taking the CEO’s chair.
As Forbes reports, Schmidt told journalists that his recent role change “has nothing to do with competitors.” He reiterated Google’s earlier statements that the CEO change is about streamlining authority at the top, a subject that Greg Sterling wrote about earlier today: Larry Page And The Reinvention Of “The Google”. Schmidt says his new focus will be on external things like “customers, partners, deals, M&A, government, press, publicity and marketing.”
He also downplayed suggestions that Facebook is a Google competitor, saying that “Microsoft has more cash, more engineers, more global reach,” and that Facebook’s interests aren’t in search:
[Facebook] has clearly stated they don’t want to get into the search business. Facebook users tend to use Google search. Facebook’s ads business does not displace our advertising. I’m somewhat perplexed by the obsession because I don’t think the facts support it. Things are going great for Google.
Facebook may not be interested in search, and perhaps its ads haven’t “displaced” Google’s ads — that’s a pretty strong word — but no one would argue that advertisers are focusing more on Facebook now than ever, and the potential to dent Google’s ad business is there. And while Facebook may not be interested in search today, it certainly competes with Google for users’ attention. See these articles for more on that:
- Facebook: Most Popular Search Term & Most Visited Website in 2010, Hitwise Says
- Facebook Getting Almost 25% Of All US Page Views
- With So Much Money Is A Facebook Search Engine Inevitable?
Schmidt was also full of compliments for Apple CEO Steve Jobs, but pointed out that the two companies partner on several areas while competing on phones and Google’s Chrome OS hardware. And he apparently couldn’t resist a little swipe on the ongoing open-vs.-closed debate between the two companies: “They managed to build an elegant, scalable, closed system. Google is attempting to do something with a completely different approach.”
(photo courtesy jolieodell via Creative Commons)