Google’s Schmidt Elected to Apple’s Board; What Now?

Apple Computer announced today that Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been elected to its board of directors.

Niall Kennedy cites some pre-existing coziness and board-level interconnections between Google and Apple, while Om Malik says today’s announcement portends hard times for Microsoft and all other comers in digital media.

I figured Microsoft and its Zune were in for a dauntingly uphill fight against Apple’s iPod and iTunes even without having to contend with the additional resistance that Google might bring to proceedings. As the MSN/Windows Live debacle demonstrates, Microsoft is not nearly as close to the web-connected consumer as it presumes to be, nor as close to that market as many observers believe it to be.

Increasingly, I see Microsoft as more of a threat to incumbents in SME business markets — beware security, business intelligence, database, and asset management vendors — than in consumer-oriented services. Microsoft has gotten things right, for the most part, with the Xbox, but not so much with its online offerings.

What’s interesting about today’s announcement of Schmidt’s ascension to the Apple board of directors is the relief into which it throws Google’s decisions earlier this month, as announced at the annual National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) conference, to refrain from entering the online music marketplace. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?

So, now that the deal has been signed in boardroom blood, so to speak, what sorts of quid pro quos will Apple and Google exchange with one another?

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