AllThingsD Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt sat down with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher recently for an AllThingsD pow-wow, where an audience member came up with an interesting question: “If you had to be a CEO again, would you choose Apple, Amazon or Facebook?”

And the winner is… Apple.

Schmidt: I was on Apple’s board, and I’ll always have a soft spot for them. I was very good friends and very close to Steve Jobs, and we miss him dearly. Jeff Bezos has made remarkable moves. And again, Facebook has a billion users.

Mossberg: So which one?

Schmidt: Which one has the most cash? That would be Apple.

Makes sense. It certainly wouldn’t be Microsoft, which Schmidt doesn’t take seriously. When Mossberg asked the Google executive chairman to elaborate on the “Gang of Four” idea he mentioned a couple of years ago (about the most influential technology companies), here’s how he responded:

Schmidt: Something unusual has happened. All four companies are networks/platforms generating enormous scale effects. We’ve never had that before: Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google. All different, all competitors, all making enormous investments.

Swisher: You left out Microsoft:

Schmidt: Deliberate.

Mossberg: Why did you keep Microsoft out of the Gang of Four?

Schmidt: They’re a well-run company, but they haven’t been able to bring state-of-the-art products into the fields we’re talking about yet.

Then he went on to take a shot at the upcoming Surface. Mossberg offered that Microsoft building its own computer running its OS will be a historic event, as the company is known for licensing its operating systems to others. Then he asked Schmidt what that means. The response? “It means a lot if the product works.”

On the topic of iOS 6 Maps, the answer was plain and simple: Apple shouldn’t have ditched Google Maps. Sure, the competitor has been working on its own map solution for quite some time, but after all that, it finally figured out something— “maps are really hard.” So what would Schmidt say to convince Apple to keep GMaps? Easy: “They’re better maps.”

Overall though, the mobile platform wars is a good thing, said Schmidt. “Apple has thousands of developers building for it. Google’s platform, Android, is even larger. Four times more Android phones than Apple phones. 500 million phones already in use. Doing 1.3 million activations a day. We’ll be at 1 billion mobile devices in a year. We’ve not seen network platform fights at this scale. The beneficiary is you all, the customer, globally. “This is wonderful.”

For more, check out the whole interview by clicking the source link. It’s a great read, as Schmidt also waxed poetic about self-driving cars — which are being developed by Google — and shared impressions about other companies, including Facebook and HP, and much more.

[Via AllThingsD]