Google’s Schmidt: I Was Late to Social Media Revolution

Kiran Moodley, special to
Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Google Inc.
SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, said he regrets coming to the social media revolution late during his ten years as the company's CEO.

Schmidt, who stepped down as CEO in 2011, said he was proud of Google's achievements in the past decade.

"The source of pride for me personally is the power of information is so dramatic, that you really do touch people's lives when you give them the answers to the things they care about," Schmidt said in an interview with CNBC-TV 18 in India. "I can't think of a better way to spend a decade."

He added that his biggest mistake, however, was not seeing the social media revolution soon enough, something he took personal responsibility for. However, he said, that with Google Plus the company was well in touch.

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While he admitted Google's late arrival on the social media stage meant Facebook and others had a clear head-start, Google Plus was ready to compete.

"The Google Plus link craft, the people you interact with, is an important future signal in our search ranking," he said. "I think it's important that Google be a player in all of the internet technologies."

The "Big Four"—of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple—compete all the time, Schmidt said.

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Apple is threatened by Android, Amazon has rivals in the e-commerce space, Google has to fight off Microsoft and now Facebook has to battle with Google Plus, he added.

"The key thing for each of these companies is the rate at which they can continue to innovate to solve problems that really matter to the end-user," he said.

"It used to be that the industry was largely driven by the Microsoft monopoly structure in terms of PC hardware manufacturers, but that's completely broken down now by this new immersion of tablets and phones with many, many different choices. I think it's great," he added.

Discussing Google's future, Schmidt maintained his commitment to the importance of an open and accessible Internet, subtly referencing his recent trip to North Korea.

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"It's natural for a politician to only want good coverage of himself or herself," Schmidt said. "What the Internet says is that you have to run your government more [openly]. You need to be honest; you need to tell people what you're doing; and you need to develop a trust through all the media which includes the Internet. The politicians that do that will do just fine. The politicians that try to shut down criticism will ultimately be booted out of office, at least in a democracy."

For Google, the future is bright due to two factors: Android and Google Glass — glasses that project information onto an eye lens, Schmidt said.

He said he was currently unsure what people would use the Lens for exactly.

"But we know that it will unleash a whole new set of applications for human behavior of one kind or another," Schmidt said.