Google (GOOG) vs Apple (AAPL) is the Industry’s Defining Fight: Eric Schmidt

Google (GOOG) Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt believes the intensifying battle between Google’s Android and Apple (AAPL) for supremacy in the mobile market could be the defining fight in the IT market today.

“The Android-Apple platform fight is the defining fight in the industry today,” Schmidt said during an interview with AllThingsD on Wednesday. “The beneficiary is you guys (i.e., consumers). Prices are dropping rapidly. That’s a wonderful value proposition.”

Without naming his source, Schmidt, who expects more than a billion mobile devices around the world to be running on Google’s mobile platform Android within a year, said Google had seen surveys showing that four Android devices sold for every Apple device.

Needless to say, the comment underlines the animosity between Google and Apple that has grown over the last few years. The tech giants were once close partners, with Schmidt serving on Apple’s board during part of his tenure as Google CEO.

As for patent battles, Schmidt said he found the subject upsetting, calling them “death” for the industry.

“These patent wars are death,” he said, pointing out that there are an estimated 200,000 patents covering the software industry.

Schmidt said the magnitude of the impact is worse for small companies than it is for companies like Apple, Google and Samsung that can afford to protect their technologies.

“I think this is ultimately bad, bad for innovation. It eliminates choices.”

Schmidt also talked during the interview about Microsoft (MSFT)’s attempt to fight back in the mobile market with Windows 8, saying he was unsure how it would pan out.

“Let’s see what [Windows 8] does. Everyone I know has moved to the Mac in that space, so we will see how that plays out,” he said, adding that “[Microsoft is] a well-funded, smart, well-run company but they have not been able to bring out state-of-the-art products in the spaces we are talking about.”

Schmidt also answered to an interesting question from the audience:  If he had to be CEO again, would he go for Apple, Amazon (AMZN) or Facebook (FB)?

[via Gizmodo] “I was on Apple board, and I’ll always have a soft spot for them”, Schmidt said. “I was very good friends and very close to Steve Jobs, and we miss him dearly.”

The rest of Schmidt’s interview, which is definitely worth watching, can be viewed here.

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