There has been a misquote being passed around the net like wildfire this morning. According to the quote that is being reported widely by tech and Apple blogs, Eric Schmidt said that he stayed on Apple’s Board of Directors until he “couldn’t stand the board anymore.”
But that quote is incorrect, Schmidt actually said: “I was on the board until I couldn’t stay on the board anymore,”
This statement was made during a question-and-answer session with Salesforce.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff at Moscone West in San Francisco yesterday.
The quote was transcribed improperly and distributed via Bloomberg, where it made its way to several publications including the SF Chronicle, where there is now a correction in place.
Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt joined Apple’s board of directors in November of 2006. At the time, Android was still very much a twinkle in Google’s eye and the iPhone was being prepared for its January 2007 debut. Behind the scenes, Apple and Google were working together to integrate Google’s search, maps and YouTube products into the fabric of the iPhone. Then, in November of 2007, Google announced its Android project publicly as a platform that other phones would run on.
Google announced the first Android device, the distinctly different touch-screen T-Mobile G1 manufactured by HTC, in September of 2008.
Just over a year later, in August of 2009, Eric Schmidt and Apple parted ways. The reasons for Schmidt leaving were explained by an Apple statement that Google and Apple were just too much in competition in the mobile space as well as the desktop space now that Google had entered the market with Chrome OS.
In his book In The Plex, author Steven Levy attributes the split to the animosity felt by Steve Jobs after he witnessed very distinctly iPhone features like ‘pinch-to-zoom’ being demonstrated on Android devices at Google’s headquarters.
Although Schmidt stayed on for a year after Android first arrived on a phone, he was left more and more consistently out of the loop and was not privy to Apple’s plans for the iPad at all, reportedly at Jobs’ insistence.
Despite the history, Schmidt went on to praise Apple’s former CEO, Steve Jobs, saying “it’s certainly the best performance of a CEO in 50 years. We’ve all benefited from the tremendous innovation at Apple. And I say this as a very proud former board member at Apple.”