Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Eric Schmidt’s “Gang Of Four” Doesn’t Have Room for Microsoft

Google chairman Eric Schmidt says there are four companies dominating consumer technology today: His own, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. “It seems to me that there are four companies that are exploiting platform strategies really well.”

What about Microsoft? Not a player, Schmidt tells Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at D9: “Microsoft is not driving the consumer revolution in the minds of the consumers.”

What about Xbox? That’s a big consumer success, right? Yes, Schmidt says. But “it’s not a platform at the computational level.” Microsoft is still fundamentally about Office and Windows.

Schmidt says that the other three gang members all have frenemy relationships with Google: Apple competes on mobile, obviously, but partners with Google on search and maps. Google is starting to sell some of the same digital goods that Amazon does, but the two work together on Android, etc.

What about Facebook? Google would like to work with Facebook, but hasn’t been able to so far, he says. Facebook has done a very good job with identity, and “identity is incredibly useful because in the online world you need to know who you are dealing with.”

And this is where it gets a bit confusing: Schmidt says that Google isn’t competing with Facebook, because the two do different things. But he says that it would be useful if some of the things that Facebook does very well were also available from other services: “I think the industry would benefit from having an alternative to that.”

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I think it was the right decision for Cisco, but that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed.

— Flip founder Jon Kaplan on Cisco’s decision to scrap the Flip.