Is Eric Schmidt getting too cocky?

Summary:"In 2007 we’ll witness the increasing dominance of open Internet standards. As web access via mobile phones grows, these standards will sweep aside the proprietary protocols promoted by individual companies striving for technical monopoly.

"In 2007 we’ll witness the increasing dominance of open Internet standards. As web access via mobile phones grows, these standards will sweep aside the proprietary protocols promoted by individual companies striving for technical monopoly. Today’s desktop software will be overtaken by internet-based services that enable users to choose the document formats, search tools and editing capability that best suit their needs."

That passage, from an interview with the Economist certainly sounds like Google CEO Eric Schmidt is picking a fight with Microsoft, aka the main player "striving for technical monopoly."

As Nick Carr notes on his blog Schmidt's quotes are a bit of a departure from what he told ZDNet's Dan Farber earlier this month. Overall, Carr reads Schmidt to be issuing a threat to Microsoft's Office juggernaut. Until now Schmidt has been coy about Google's plans in productivity software.

Add it up and you're left with a few questions. What exactly is Schmidt thinking? Is he getting too cocky? Or does he honestly believe that running into Microsoft head-on is the best business move?

Perhaps Schmidt is being blinded by a $500-plus stock price, but a direct assault Microsoft, which has unlimited resources, may not be the brightest move.

After all, Microsoft could buy Yahoo tomorrow and make life difficult for Google. The turn of events is even more surprising given Schmidt's track record. He was a whipping boy for Microsoft while he was CEO of Novell. Listening to those conference calls--and the Wall Street disappointments--a few years ago was just downright painful. It's quite a sea change compared to the lovefest that Google's earnings calls have become.

What happened? Schmidt landed in a situation that was perfect for him. Meanwhile, his engineering background gelled with Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. That arrangement is a once in a lifetime gig.

Perhaps the Google trio has a plan to bring down Microsoft, but Silicon Valley executives have plenty of treadmarks from trying. Schmidt is right about cloud computing and a new paradigm, but it wouldn't it make more sense to wage guerilla warfare instead of a frontal assault?

Since Schmidt has the Microsoft battle scars from Novell you'd think the frontal assault wouldn't be an option. But maybe Schmidt knows something we don't. This observer just keeps remembering those awkward Novell moments and wondering if Schmidt has become a little too cocky.

Topics: Google

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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