Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt on Tuesday defended his company as a great innovator, contradicting an unflattering portrait drawn by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs before he died last month.
Schmidt told reporters that he is still "very sad and recovering from the sense of loss" from Jobs' Oct. 5 death. He declined to specifically address Jobs' irate criticism of Google in a biography that drew upon dozens of interviews with the book's author, Walter Isaacson.
The biography was released Oct. 24. In it, Jobs contends Internet search leader Google Inc. stole from Apple Inc.'s iPhone to build many of the features in Google's Android software for rival phones. Jobs also belittled the quality of Android and Google's other non-search products, which he described in vulgar terms.
"I decided not to comment on comments that are written in the book after his death. I don't think it's right," Schmidt said, describing Jobs as a "fantastic human being" who he "dearly" misses.
Jobs died at 56 after a battle with cancer. Schmidt served on the Apple Inc. board from 2006 to 2009 but quit as Google and Apple clashed in the mobile market with their competing Android and iPhone products.
"Most people would agree that Google is a great innovator, and I would also point out that the Android efforts started before the iPhone efforts. And that's all I have to say," Schmidt said.
The Android software evolved from a startup launched in 2003 by former Apple engineer Andy Rubin. Google bought Android in 2005 for an undisclosed amount and then spent several years working on the mobile software system with Rubin still overseeing the project. During that time, Apple unveiled the touch-screen iPhone in June 2007. The first Android-powered phone debuted more than a year later.
While he still was serving on Apple's board, Schmidt also was Google's CEO — a job he surrendered in April after a decade-long stint. Google co-founder Larry Page is now CEO while Schmidt handles the company's government relations and helps negotiate acquisitions.
Kim is a technology writer for The Associated Press