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Google CEO Downplays DoubleClick Buy

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google CEO Eric Schmidt said antitrust concerns raised by Microsoft and AT&T over the search giant's $3.1 billion bid for online advertising firm DoubleClick were groundless.

"Microsoft? AT&T?" Schmidt asked rhetorically, noting both of those corporate giants waged lengthy antitrust battles in the courts. "Give me a break."

The search giant's chief made his comments during an onstage discussion here at the Web 2.0 Expo with one of show's organizer's John Battelle. Schmidt said the total market reach of Google and DoubleClick amounted to about one percent of the $1 trillion ad business worldwide. He also said the DoubleClick purchase made sense even at the price Google paid.

"Google has a particularly strong ad business because we do a better job of targeting," said Schmidt. "You marry that to the assets of the technology and people DoubleClick has assembled and that's how you get to the [purchase price] number."

Battelle, author of a book on Google , noted that Google's Google Pack software suite includes a third-party application that deletes DoubleClick cookies .

Schmidt implied Google would probably continue to offer the application. "It's a pretty good application," he said. "We'll figure it out."

Schmidt, who also said Google will soon add a presentation feature to its Google Docs and Spreadsheet online applications to let users use slideshows, insisted that Google's suite of Web-based apps aren't designed to compete with Microsoft's dominant Office suite.

"It doesn't have all the functionality of Microsoft Office -- it's a different way to share information," said Schmidt. "It's casual and a better fit for the Web 2.0  framework."

Gartner analyst Mike McGuire agreed that Google's apps aren't a direct threat to Microsoft.

"Certainly not in the enterprise, where there is a lot of inertia; they don't change application vendors often," McGuire told internetnews.com. "It could be a great thing for individual users who want to try it and there are other companies doing similar things."

Schmidt also weighed in on Net neutrality . Consistent with his past comments, Schmidt said it would be a bad idea for extra fees to be levied on companies that want to leverage the broad reach of the Internet much as Google did when it started.

"Ironically, if any company could survive a net neutrality fee it's Google," Schmidt said. "But that's a business negotiation, not something that should be enshrined into law."

In conclusion, Schmidt told the entrepreneurs in the audience that he thinks the biggest growth area is mobile.

"People treat their mobile phone as an extension of [themselves]," he said. "The 3G and eventually 4G phones coming will have tremendous power."

He said there was a huge opportunity for anyone building or targeting wireless applications.

Schmidt, who is a board member of Apple, said he was looking forward to getting his hands on the iPhone due out in June.