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Google CEO Joins Apple Computer’s Board of Directors

The NewsHour's Economics Correspondent Paul Solman reports on Apple Computer's appointment of Google's CEO to its board of directors. A technology expert then discusses the new ties between the computer giants.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, new connections between two computer giants, Google and Apple. NewsHour economics correspondent Paul Solman has our story.

  • PAUL SOLMAN, NewsHour Economics Correspondent:

    This week's announcement that Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, would be joining Apple Computer's board of directors had industry analysts wondering if two Microsoft rivals weren't, in fact, teaming up against the giant.

    For more on this and its broader implications, we're joined by Michael Schrage, MIT research associate. He's worked as an adviser to Microsoft, Google, and other technology companies.

    Michael, welcome.

    MICHAEL SCHRAGE, Co-Director, MIT's e-Markets Initiative: Thank you.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    How big a deal is this?

  • MICHAEL SCHRAGE:

    Well, the announcement that Mr. Schmidt is going on Apple's board, frankly, is I think more of an individual than an institutional story. I think it's intriguing and provocative, but in and of itself I don't think that's the big deal.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    It's symbolic, though.

  • MICHAEL SCHRAGE:

    Absolutely. It is an important symbol of some key trends going on in the business and the industry at large, not just in the U.S. and not just in their markets, but worldwide.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    And they are?

  • MICHAEL SCHRAGE:

    And they are the triumph of digital services over software; the importance of devices as the media to transform, about to turn these digital services into value; and the importance of simple, easy, accessible customer interfaces.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    Digital services over software, meaning what?

  • MICHAEL SCHRAGE:

    Over software. What it means is that the traditional notion of computing is that you have software and it runs in your computer. These days, with the Internet, you don't need the software in your computer. It can be on the network. And software running on the network is like a service to your computer, a service to your desktop, a service to your laptop, a service to your phone.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    OK, so that's one. What are the others?

  • MICHAEL SCHRAGE:

    Number two is the increasing importance of devices as empowerment, as the media for all of these services. You have a phone; you talk on the phone. But you don't just talk on the phone anymore. You send messages on the phone. You don't just send messages on the phone. You take pictures with the phone. You don't…

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    Videos. I take videos of my grandkids.

  • MICHAEL SCHRAGE:

    You got in my way.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    Sorry, sorry.

  • MICHAEL SCHRAGE:

    There's pictures, videos, the whole — anything having to do with bits and bytes in any form, banking transactions. These devices are the media that give more power to digital services and vice versa.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    And what's number three?

  • MICHAEL SCHRAGE:

    The third trend is key, because it symbolizes what Apple and Google do best: great consumer interfaces, interfaces to these devices. In other words, Google and Apple understand ease of use, convenience, and accessibility.

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