The hyper-competitive smartphone platform rivalry between Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is turning out to be great for consumers, but the patent wars resulting from it “are death,” according to Google chairman Eric Schmidt.
“The Android-Apple platform fight is the defining fight in the industry today,” Schmidt said during an interview with AllThingsD on Wednesday night. “We’ve not seen platform fights at this scale,” he said. “The beneficiary is you guys [consumers]. Prices are dropping rapidly. That’s a wonderful value proposition.”
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Schmidt declined to go into the details of the ongoing patent-related litigation between the main industry players because he didn’t fully understand all the details and the topic made him upset, but said that they were counterproductive. “These patent wars are death,” he said. “I think this is ultimately bad, bad for innovation. It eliminates choices.”
Schmidt also repeated his earlier assertion about Apple’s decision to switch the Google Maps app for its own navigation app in iOS and getting criticized for the quality of it. “Apple should have kept with our maps,” he said. “The fact of the matter is they decided a long time ago to do their own maps and we saw this coming with their acquisitions. I think Apple has learned that maps are hard. We invested hundreds of millions of dollars in satellite work, airplane work, drive-by work, and we think we have the best product in the industry.”
He was ambivalent on the question of a new, standalone Google Maps app for iOS being launched in the next few months. “I don’t want to pre-announce products, but I can tell you that were we to do that Apple would have to approve it,” he said.
Schmidt explained his theory of there currently being four network platform companies that dictate how the world interacts with consumer electronics. These companies — Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Apple, and Google — were helping shape the tech landscape of the future. “Facebook is attempting to become the world’s communications hub, and Amazon is attempting to become the world’s largest store,” he said.
Asked if Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) should be included in the group, Schmidt said that while the Windows maker was a “well-run company, he did not think it made “state-of-the-art products.”
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