Google board member Arthur Levinson steps down from Google's board more than two months after Google CEO Eric Schmidt vacated his seat on Apple's board. Schmidt and Levinson had come under scrutiny this year from the Federal Trade Commission, which was concerned that the men's positions on both Google and Apple's boards violated the Clayton Antitrust Act. The moves come as Google and Apple are opposing each other on the battlefields of mobile phones, and eventually, operating systems.
Arthur Levinson, the former Genentech CEO who held
positions on both Google and Apple's board of directors quit his post at Google
Oct. 13, severing another tie between Google and Apple.
comes more than two months after Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned from his
post as an Apple board member.
Schmidt and Levinson this year drew scrutiny
from the Federal Trade Commission. The agency was concerned
that the men's positions on both boards violated the Clayton
Antitrust Act barring executives from competing companies serving on each
other's board where it might reduce competition.
Schmidt quit his post
at Apple in August after concerns that Google and
Apple were opposing each other on the battlefields of mobile
phones, and eventually, operating systems.
Apple sells the iPhone, the world's most popular smartphone
. Google offers Android, a new mobile operating
system that is finding its way onto several smartphones and U.S. carriers,
including T-Mobile, Sprint and
Verizon Wireless. Apple also makes its Mac OS X computer operating system, and
Google is building its Chrome Operating System, slated to appear on netbooks on
Google and Apple also make competing applications.
Google applied to get a version of its Google Voice phone management
application on the iPhone, but Apple rejected it
, touching off
from developers and inviting
the scrutiny of the Federal Communications Commission.
Though Apple promotes Google Maps on its iPhone, the
company acquired Placebase
, which makes software that would compete with Google Maps.
Though it is not clear what Apple is doing with that acquisition, it is obvious
the companies are finding more ways to butt heads.
Application competition notwithstanding, the fact that two
companies would offer mobile and PC operating systems was enough to raise red
flags at the FTC. And with Verizon Wireless embracing Android, it now seems
Google and Verizon Wireless will be lining up
against Apple and lone iPhone
It's become clear that Google and Apple are heading on
more than one collision course, making it difficult for the two rivals to gang
up against common foe Microsoft, which was one of the reasons Schmidt joined
Apple's board in August 2006.
With competition growing from red-hot to white-hot,
Levinson's departure from Google or Apple's board became of a question of when
instead of if.
"Art has been a key part of Google's success these
past five years, offering unvarnished advice and vital counsel on every big
issue and opportunity Google has faced," Schmidt said about Levinson, who began
serving on Google's board in April 2004. "Though he leaves as a member of
our Board, Art will always have a special place at Google."
The FTC, which had threatened legal action against the
companies, praised Levinson's decision in a statement:
"Google, Apple and Mr. Levinson should be commended
for recognizing that overlapping board members between competing companies
raise serious antitrust issues, and for their willingness to resolve our
concerns without the need for litigation," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said.
"Beyond this matter, we will continue to monitor companies that share
board members and take enforcement actions where appropriate."