Google CEO Plans on Staying Apple Board Member

Google CEO Eric Schmidt told reporters Thursday he intends to remain a member of Apple's board of directors, despite Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into the relationship the two companies have.

"I don't think Apple sees Google as a primary competitor," he said, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Mr. Schmidt made the comments before a Google shareholder meeting. He was backed up by his company's chief legal officer, David Drummond, who said he didn't feel that his boss serving on Apple's board doesn't violate a key test of "overlapping revenue."

At issue is the role of long-time Apple board member Arthur Levinson, who also serves on Google's board of directors, and Mr. Schmidt who is CEO of Google, and sits on both Apple's and Google's boards of directors. The FTC is investigating whether this violates the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, which prohibits people from serving on the boards of competing companies.

Apple and Google both make a (free) Web browser, and both companies are in the mobile phone business -- Apple with its iPhone and Google with its Android platform. Mr. Schmidt joined Apple's board in August of 2006, before either Android or iPhone had been announced, and he publicly said in the past that he recuses himself from those portions of board meetings where iPhone issues are concerned.

For now, it would appear as if at least Apple's board of directors is satisfied with their relationship, and that it is within applicable laws -- as there is likely that Mr. Schmidt and his fellow Apple directors discussed the issue before he made his public comments today.