Eric Schmidt likes to say that Google is a fundamentally "open" company, and according to the man himself, this means that Google is the anti-Apple.
"With the Apple model — which works extremely well, as I know as a former Apple board member — you have to use their development tools, their platform, their software, their hardware," Schmidt said today during an appearance in San Francisco. "If you submit an application, they have to approve it. You have to use their monetization and their distribution. That would not be open. The inverse would be open."
At one point, he said that Apple's core strategy was "closedness."
During last week's interview with The Wall Street Journal, Schmidt made repeated claims of Google openness, and these claims continued this morning at the annual TechCrunch Disrupt conference, as Schmidt explained how Google is working with the rest of the industry to build — and this is an exact quote — "an augmented version of humanity."
"Google's core strategy is openness," he said. "Ours is a fundamentally open [strategy]. Open internet. Open web. It's how we fundamentally drive everything."
After the speech, when one reporter pressed him on what these open claims actually mean, Schmidt served up that comparison with Apple. "The easiest comparison is the Apple model versus the web model," he said. "Flash was allegedly a problem [for Apple]. But we love Flash, and Flash has done extremely well on Android. That 's an example of openness. Let the user decide. The user can decide [between] HTML5 or Flash."
Of course, Steve Jobs likes to say that Apple is open because it prefers HTML5 to Flash — HTML5 being an open standard. And though Schmidt likes to paint Google as open, the company is quite closed when it comes to the inner workings of its search and search-ad platforms — not to mention its back-end infrastructure. It bills a project like Android as open — and to a certain extent, it is — but there's a portions of the project that remain completely closed. That includes development of the latest version of the OS, and certain Google services on the OS.
As we've said before, we've reached the point where the word open is completely meaningless — at least among the digerati. But as he builds his augmented version of humanity, Schmidt will continue to use the term. Repeatedly. ®