Google Chairman Eric Schmidt says he left Apple board “for the right reasons”

During an on-stage interview with the Financial Times in London on Thursday, Google chairman Eric Schmidt talked about the three-year period between 2006 and 2009, when he served as one of the members of the Apple board of directors.

Schmidt, who was the Google CEO between 2001 and 2011, said that when he joined the Apple board headed by the company’s late co-founder Steve Jobs, there was hardly any conflict between Apple’s hardware business and Google’s Internet search and software business.

However, later, when Google’s Android mobile system directly took on the Apple iPhone and iPad, the relationship between Apple and Google turned sour. Jobs declared “thermonuclear war” on Google, accusing the Internet search giant of stealing concepts of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system to build the Android OS.

Recalling the past and the possible conflicts he had to face because of a foot in both camps, Schmidt said: “Apple did not mind the Chrome vs Safari issues, but they really did mind the iOS vs Android issues.”

Schmidt further said that he used to step out of the room when the subject of Apple handsets cropped up in Google’s board meetings. With Schmidt and Jobs both feeling that the arrangement of Google CEO being an Apple board member “just didn’t feel right,” Schmidt finally decided to step down from the Apple board — a move about which he now asserts: “I resigned for the right reasons.”

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