Apple announced today that Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google, has resigned from Apple’s board of directors.
Schmidt joined the board at Apple in 2006.
Said Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a press release accompanying the announcement:
“Eric has been an excellent Board member for Apple, investing his valuable time, talent, passion and wisdom to help make Apple successful. Unfortunately, as Google enters more of Apple’s core businesses, with Android and now Chrome OS, Eric’s effectiveness as an Apple Board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest. Therefore, we have mutually decided that now is the right time for Eric to resign his position on Apple’s Board.”
One can’t argue with the logic behind the move. Google’s Android and Chrome OS initiatives place it in direct competition against Apple in mobile and computing markets. Without incurring egregious conflict-of-interest violations or recusing himself from the vast majoring of proceedings, Schmidt could not have continued as an Apple board member.
What boggles the mind is that it took so long for Schmidt and Apple to reach today’s decision. Schmidt knew Google’s strategic direction before it was manifest in the marketplace; he knew Google would be encroaching on acres of Apple turf. Similarly, once Schmidt signaled Google’s intentions, with regard to Android and Chrome OS, Apple knew it was hosting a board member with divided loyalties.
It’s odd that an increasingly untenable situation was allowed to linger as long as it did.