Google Boss Quits Apple Board over FTC Scrutiny

Dennis Faas's picture

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has quit the Apple board. His resignation came after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began investigating why Apple refused to carry a Google program in its app store.

Schmidt's departure comes four months after another government agency, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), began probing his role on the board. A 1914 antitrust law bans people from sitting on the boards of rival companies if they compete with one another. That was becoming more and more problematic as Google moved into its own browser and being heavily involved in the open source operating system, Google Android.

Google Apps Advantage

There were complaints as early as last November that Google appeared to be getting unfair treatment when it came to producing iPhone apps. Google admitted it had broken Apple's rules by having its app use the handset's built-in sensor which detects when the phone is held up to the face. It was unclear if Apple had simply missed this breach or had intentionally allowed it and thus favored Google over other developers.

Last week Apple removed the Google Voice app from its store. Officially, that's because it duplicates some of the iPhone's core features, namely making telephone calls, though in reality it's because it allows users to make calls without using the AT&T network. Apple is under pressure to prevent that happening, as AT&T bases its decision to subsidize iPhones on getting a certain amount of call revenue.

Federal Scrutiny

Last week the FCC wrote to both firms asking for more information about the deletion of Google Voice. Given that Apple has previously imposed restrictions on similar services such as Skype, it's unclear why the FCC is only acting in this case, though it may be that Google's high profile attracted its attention. (Source:

Schmidt quit his post at Apple on Monday. The two firms did not cite the app store issue in the announcement; instead they said that competition between the firms had reached the stage where FTC rules meant Schmidt would have had to leave the room during so much of each board meeting that it had become impractical for him to be there at all. (Source:

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