Google CEO Eric Schmidt will resign from Apple's board of directors, three months after new reports that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission was checking whether the companies violated antitrust laws by having two directors in common: Schmidt and former Genetech CEO Arthur Levinson.
Schmidt has served on the Apple board since August 2006, and both companies make Web browsers and other software. But in July, Google announced it was working on an operating system, which would put Google in more direct competition with Apple. Google also launched the Android mobile operating system project in November 2007.
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"Eric has been an excellent Board member for Apple, investing his valuable time, talent, passion and wisdom to help make Apple successful," Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO said in a statement. "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."
In late July, Apple rejected Google Voice as an application to run on the popular iPhone. Google Voice is a telephone management system that allows users to share a single number among all their phones. It offers SMS, voice mail, and speech-to-text conversion of incoming voice mail messages.
On Friday, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission wrote to Apple, AT&T, and Google questioning the rejection of Google Voice and related applications from the iPhone App Store.
The FTC approved of Schmidt's resignation. The agency's investigation focused on so-called interlocking directorates between the two companies.
"We have been investigating the Google/Apple interlocking directorates issue for some time and commend them for recognizing that sharing directors raises competitive issues, as Google and Apple increasingly compete with each other," Richard Feinstein, director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said in a statement. "We will continue to investigate remaining interlocking directorates between the companies."