Mr. Schmidt, step down from that board

Eric Schmidt's role as a board member of both Google and Apple is now untenable given Google's plans to develop a personal computer operating system.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read

Dear Eric Schmidt:

Google's Eric Schmidt should think long and hard about his role on Apple's board now that Google plans to develop a computer operating system. Dan Farber/CNET

It's time for you to go.

Not from Google; even your biggest detractor would give you credit for the technological marvel and prosperous business you have helped create in Mountain View. But your position on Apple's board of directors now looks completely untenable given Google's intention to release a lightweight operating system for personal computers called Chrome OS.

Google is developing Chrome OS because "We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear -- computers need to get better," according to one of your employees. The first part of Apple's mission statement declares "Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications."

It was pretty clear before, but now it's completely obvious: you are overseeing two companies on a collision course. How can you possibly claim that you're guiding the best interests of each company when the best interest of each company in two years will be to out-maneuver the other?

CNET News Poll

Reflections on Chrome
What was your first reaction to Google Chrome OS?

Microsoft is toast.
Google is the new Microsoft.
I'll be all Google all the time.
Meh. I'm happy with Mac OS.
Linux under the hood. Hurrah!

View results

And the thing is, we've had this conversation before.

When Google announced plans to develop Android, a smartphone operating system that competes with Apple's iPhone OS for consumer and developer attention, you said you would recuse yourself from any discussions about the iPhone during meetings of Apple's board. You reiterated that stance in May after reports emerged that the Federal Trade Commission had raised an eyebrow at your presence on both boards, and when asked if you recuse yourself from any other topics at Apple meetings, you answered, "Not that I recall."

So, do you now plan to recuse yourself from any board meetings in which Mac OS X development is discussed? You're also not a member of the three main committees on Apple's board: Audit and Finance, Compensation, and Nominating and Corporate Governance. Is the iPod the only product at Apple that you're now qualified to oversee?

Representatives for both Google and Apple did not respond to requests for comment on your role overseeing both companies, and how that might have changed with the announcement of Chrome OS. But enough is enough.

As I'm sure you're well aware, the last thing you need this year is more government scrutiny of your business practices. If Apple's board doesn't ask you do to so, please submit your resignation so both companies can free themselves of this obvious conflict of interest, and continue to develop the amazing products and services you have been separately creating.

Tom Krazit