Since Eric Schmidt stepped down from the position of Google CEO, handing the power seat over to Larry Page (one of Google’s two original founders), there have been rumors about the reason for the change-up. Some have accused Schmidt of having botched the potential Facebook buyout years back while others say the repeated failures in product launches (Google TV, Buzz, and Wave to name some recent projects) led to doubts on his abilities. All these accusations seem pretty off the wall, however, considering that Schmidt remains as the company’s executive chairman and that he’s still one of the strongest company spokespeople. Recently, Schmidt gave an interview that opened the D9 conference – and which covers his take on the new platform wars.
The old platform war would be, of course, Apple’s Macintosh standing (and falling) against Microsoft’s Windows systems. While the computer era saw two groups duking it out, Schmidt indicates that the current platform wars – which cover web services and, to a lesser extent, mobile devices – are being fought by “a gang of four.” “If you look at the industry as a whole, there are four companies that are exploiting platform strategies very well,” said Schmidt. “These are global companies with reach and economics that 10 years ago or 20 years ago one company had – typically Microsoft, or before it, IBM.”
Of note, Microsoft has been left off Schmidt’s list. The four companies the former Google CEO is discussing here are Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. In discussing Microsoft’s conspicuous absence from this list, Schmidt stated that, “Microsoft is not driving the consumer revolution in the minds of the consumers,” but are instead getting their profits “from the union of Windows server and the clients, which they do very well at.” The real success of the major online platforms, according to Schmidt, is largely driven by the ability to draw in outside groups to compete in a layer on top of the platform itself; for example, Facebook games or apps in the Android or Apple market, which use the base identity and resources provided by the platform as a foundation to their own work.
Schmidt isn’t predicting the dominance of one company. Rather, he states that it’s likely that – should a given company fail – a successor is likely to take its place.
[via The Wall Street Journal]