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Google doesn't copy, explains Eric Schmidt

In a post on -- of all things -- Google+, the company's executive chairman explains that Google is only focused on "building great products that people need."

Now do you understand? Eric Schmidt/Google+ screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

This is an era of uncommon innovation.

Minds brighter than have ever been seen have congregated in one small part of western America to change the way everything is done.

It's working. All around us, we hardly recognize the world from even 10 years ago. At the core of this achievement is a pristine purity of thought.

This was underlined today by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

In a post on the entirely original Google+, he offered a couple of sentences to explain just how innovative Google is. Oh, and he added a cartoon for those who don't bother to read anymore.

His words went like this: "Playing catchup with the competition can only ever help you make incremental gains. It will never help you create something new. It's important to understand what's going on around you, but the best way to stay ahead is a laser focus on building great products that people need."

This is a world of hashtags -- which I'm fairly sure Google invented -- so Schmidt added "#howgoogleworks #innovation."

The cartoon showed three lemonade stands. One sold Fresh Lemonade, one Fresher Lemonade and the last Hard Lemonade. Below this were the words: "Know your competition. Don't copy it."

I infer, as I'm sure one or two others will, that Schmidt believes Google isn't a copier. It's an innovator that places blinkers over its eyes and brains and creates things that people want, such as Google Wave and, of course, Google+ itself.

At no point does Google put self-interest first. Rather, it stares permanently at humanity and wonders what it'll want next. Like ceasing to drive, for example.

The desperate pursuit of innovation could be one of the reasons it seems to follow everyone around the Web and reads their emails. Another might be merely to sell them ads to make a lot of money to spend on innovating what people really need.

Still, I find myself marveling at the misunderstandings that Google sometimes inadvertently incites.

Why was it that Steve Jobs was so keen to enact ? He seemed to think that his one-time friends had, well, copied certain tiny elements of the iPhone.

Was he mistaken? Or did he merely not quite grasp the raw innovation within Google?

Some might observe that the very Google+ upon which Schmidt blessed his words, appeared to be a rather late entrant into the social-networking firmament. Those of a more innovative nature might also sniff that many of Facebook's recent "developments" bear remarkable similarities to Google+.

The real danger, of course, is to claim you're startlingly innovative. The more one examines Apple, Samsung, Facebook, Google and the whole cabal of technological power, the more one sees an occasional -- and no doubt coincidental -- uniformity of thought.

I am sure that the larger phone screen on Apple's new iPhone will be larger in an entirely innovative way when compared to Samsung's old big thing.

But the proliferation of lawsuits and, sometimes, consumer confusion serves only to challenge the notion that any company is quite as original as it thinks.

It's therefore tempting to conclude that Schmidt was having a little joke. I know this is possible because he explained to Stephen Colbert a few years ago that he's prone to humor.