Time for Google’s Eric Schmidt to go?

Like any good pundit, Rob Enderle knows how to stir things up. You may have read some of [Rob’s commentary](http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/columns/article.php/3864281/The-World-According-to-Intel.htm) at our sister site, *Datamation*.

For example, he’s regularly bombarded with hate mail by iPhone fans for criticizing Apple’s strategy or predicting the company faces stiff competition. Those folks don’t seem to have as much to say when he gives Apple credit, but that’s not surprising.

Enderle’s latest target in an e-mail newsletter commentary, Google, is sure to raise a few eyebrows. Specifically, he thinks CEO Eric Schmidt is steering the company in the wrong direction and will be gone in three years.


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If there is one company that [personifies Silicon Valley’s success](http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/mowi/article.php/3860081/Google-CEO-Says-Company-Still-Supports-iPhone.htm) through thick and thin in recent years, it’s Google. It reported over $2 billion in profit for its last quarter and continues to hire and acquire.

What set Enderle off were reports that Schmidt predicted the PC will be dead in three years. I couldn’t get confirmation that Schmidt actually predicted, as Enderle claimed, that the PC will be dead in three years. What he did say was that Google was focused on developing for mobile first.

“That is, in fact, a change,” said Schmidt in reports of his speech. “Every product announcement we’ve done recently — of course we’ll have a desktop version — but we’ll also have one on a high-performance mobile phone.”

Enderle said predictions of the PC’s demise remind him of predictions as far back as the 1980s that the mainframe was dead or soon would be. “… it not only survives today, it is one of IBM’s biggest-grossing sellers,” said Enderle.

He also noted it can often take decades for a technology to die, even years after someone’s built a better mousetrap.

“Fax machines were effectively dead when e-mail took over but most of us still deal with them on at least a weekly basis. Granted, they’ll be much less important, but it is likely we’ll still have fax machines in three years as well,” he said.

**Does Google have the right CEO?**

Getting to the meat of the matter and, regardless of what Schmidt actually said, Enderle thinks it’s actually Google’s CEO who should be most worried about where he’ll be in three years. Enderle points out that business didn’t exactly flourish at Sun and Novell when Schmidt was there as CTO and CEO respectively. And now Schmidt is pushing Google to an enterprise focus because that’s the area he’s most familiar with.

“It isn’t hard to argue that Eric would be Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s choice to run Google …. and that isn’t a good thing for Google.”


I called Enderle to elaborate and he got even more heated on the topic.

“With Eric you get a CEO suited to run the company the way he’s been trained, which is mainly enterprise hardware. Do you really want to turn Google into Sun?”

I argued that Google’s enterprise efforts are a fraction of the company’s business and it can afford to experiment. But he said he thinks Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are holding Schmidt back and that if Schmidt had his way, he would put more of Google’s resources on the enterprise side. And that would be bad for Google because making a huge shift to the enterprise helped kill Netscape and had severe economic repercussions on Microsoft throughout the1990s.

“There was no growth at Microsoft, they were pounded in the ’90s,” he said. “The enterprise is just a tough business with thin margins and a very long sales cycle. The reason IBM and HP are so successful is that they’ve been at it for so long; IBM pretty much invented IT in the enterprise.”

So the enterprise business has thin margins? That was news to me.

“The pricing for Office and other business software is set high so they can discount the crap out of it for the enterprise,” said Enderle. “Ideally what you want to do to get in that market is partner with an established player because it takes so long to build up the relationships and get those companies comfortable with you as a supplier.

“There are quicker ways to waste to a lot of money,” Enderle continued. “The last decade the enterprise hasn’t been buying, while Apple’s making money largely because it’s thumbed it’s nose and said it’s not going to seriously invest in that market.”

And what does Enderle think Schmidt would say about his comments?

“I’m probably not going to get a Christmas card from him.”

**I saved the Internet**

Completely off-topic, but I had one of those ‘good to be a Dad’ moments yesterday. When I got home from work my son rather anxiously greeted me at the door with, “Dad, the Internet’s down. Can you fix it?”

I had to chuckle over that one, but a few cable modem reboots later, the Internet was restored. Geez, I’m good. If only fixing cars was that easy.

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