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Google’s Eric Schmidt Loses Touch of Reality

Not long ago, Eric Schmidt, late of Apple’s board of directors and the present executive chairman at Google, made the silly claim, at a public event no less, than Android was more secure than iOS. Well, perhaps that was his profound belief, though it bought nothing but laughter from the audience. You could almost feel that Schmidt had become the politician who sticks to ridiculous talking points regardless of the facts.

Well, it appears that Schmidt is at it again, this time pretending that loads of iPhone users are rushing to move from iOS to Android. So he writes, “many of my iPhone friends are converting to Android. The latest high-end phones from Samsung (Galaxy S4), Motorola (Verizon Droid Ultra) and the Nexus 5 (for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) have better screens, are faster, and have a much more intuitive interface. They are a great Christmas present to an iPhone user!”

Or is that the equivalent of putting a brick in your Christmas stocking?

As with his bizarre comments about the Android security situation, Schmidt is imagining situations that don’t exist when it comes to the iPhone compared to his preferred handsets. Now I don’t dispute his contention that “many of his friends are converting to Android.” Perhaps he limits his association to people who aren’t using iPhones, or are leaving the platform for some reason. In the real world, several times as many people leave Android for the iPhone than vice versa.

While claims of a “much more intuitive interface” are subjective, it’s clear that the iPhone 5s is usually faster than the speediest high-end Android phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4. I’m sure many of you are aware of Samsung’s software trick, which hotrods (overclocks) the S4 processor when certain benchmark apps are run. Talk about cheating. What’s more, Android lags seriously on lesser hardware. Even on the fastest smartphones, screen movement proceeds in tiny jerks, rather than smoothly, as on almost any Apple mobile gadget.

The claim of “better screens” may be true if you consider display size. If you consider how, say, a Galaxy S4 works in sunlight, the answer is that it doesn’t. The AMOLED screen is totally washed out. At least the iPhone is visible. Not super bright by any means, but visible and usable.

Or maybe Schmidt has joined the editors of Consumer Reports in testing these things indoors. Maybe he just doesn’t get out much.

Now obviously what Schmidt says is meant as corporate spin. Google wants you to believe Android and Android handsets are superior to the iPhone. While Android sales trump the iPhone, no single model sells more than Apple. And 70% of those Android sales are for low-end crap, which doesn’t do much to show off the best the platform can deliver. Handset makers don’t make any profits from these sales either, although some businesses are merely happy to have decent cash flow I suppose.

In any case, Schmidt’s occasional flights of fancy are far tamer than what you’ve heard from outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer over the years. He dismissed the iPhone and the iPad as being, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant. But Microsoft hasn’t been able to do much with Windows Phone, and the Surface tablet has yet to find a market. Sure, Ballmer can gloat over the clear success of the Xbox One, and it does appear to be a credible upgrade for the company’s gaming console.

But Microsoft is still facing some strong headwinds in trying to keep Windows, Office and Windows Phone relevant. Apple’s decision to make the iWork office suite, and OS X Mavericks for that matter, free, has really put the screws to Microsoft. It’s not that the company can give away software that drives most of their income, although Microsoft Office will remain the standard bearer in businesses regardless of the purchase price. Here Google Docs is probably the most serious competitor, for many businesses have decided that they don’t need to pay a bundle for productivity apps. Regardless, Microsoft loses.

As to Google, I wonder just how much attention Android is earning these days. Having the number one mobile platform may sound really nice as a marketing talking point, but it has not delivered huge stacks of cash to the company. People who buy cheap Android handsets are not inclined to actually pay anything for apps, which doesn’t help developers, or enhance Google’s commission for sales from the Google Play store.

Even though distribution of the latest Android, 4.4 KitKat, is expanding, hundreds of millions of Android handsets and tablets will never receive that upgrade.

But I wonder if Schmidt cares. Besides, I expect he’s smart enough to know that his silly remarks about Android security and what makes the best mobile gadget stocking stuffer are nothing more than market speak. It’s not as if he is going to suddenly admit that Apple still has the better platform, and still earns far more profit than all those hundreds of millions of Android gadgets deliver to Google. I only wonder why anyone is taking him seriously, that’s all.