Eric Schmidt leaves Apple's board amid Google Voice, Chrome OS conflicts

A mere three days after the San Jose Mercury News published an interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in which he stated conflicts of interest regarding his membership on Apple's board of directors could be resolved by recusing himself from matters regarding the iPhone, Apple has officially recognized Schmidt's resignation from that board.

Apple's CEO Steve Jobs issued a statement this morning which said, "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." Schmidt was elected to Apple's board in 2006.

In the Mercury News interview, Schmidt told reporter Elise Ackerman, "The board question can be solved by recusing yourself, which I do with the iPhone. It is also important to remember that unlike Microsoft and Google, Apple and Google have a lot of technical partnerships. The underpinnings of Chrome are the same as that of Apple's Safari browser. There is a lot of collaboration around Web standards. We collaborate on the maps area. We have a large number of iPhone apps. There are significant benefits to Apple and to Google for me to be on both boards with the caveat that you mentioned that you have to be very careful."

The Google CEO's move comes a week after Apple made the decision to officially disallow the distribution of Google Voice, an application that centralizes the distribution of voice mail but which also requires the creation of a separate phone number. The company is working on a way to transport your existing mobile number; but in any event, Google's functionality would effectively trample upon AT&T and other carriers' services which, though non-centralized like Google Voice, are still bundled with the iPhone. Users began noticing Apple's reluctance to enable Google Voice last November.

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