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Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt outlined his "gang of four"---Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook---with massive platforms, scale and global reach. The big question is whether these companies can continue to execute.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributing Editor on

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt outlined his "gang of four"---Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook---with massive platforms, scale and global reach. The big question is whether these companies can continue to execute.

Speaking at the AllThingsD D9 conference Schmidt said the globe has "never had companies growing that fast at that scale."

That growth "has not been possible before," said Schmidt. Previous tech eras were ruled by one company---Microsoft and then IBM for that.

Schmidt omitted Microsoft from his list because it doesn't drive the consumer market anymore and is largely an enterprise play. He gave props to Microsoft's Xbox, but put the company in the Windows/Office box.

According to Schmidt the relationship between the gang of four components varies. For instance, Google partners with Apple on search and maps and competes on mobile operating systems. Google "tried very hard" to partner with Facebook as a way to improve search. Now Google wants to form an alternative to Facebook to produce better search results.

Amazon also falls in the partner and competitor depending on the market.

The kicker to this gang of four chat was that Schmidt expects one of the companies to stumble. The gang of four is too large to consolidate. It's more likely that "one misses the mark," said Schmidt, who added that the lifetime as a platform play is shorter. "Can each company maintain product excellence?"

That final question is notable. Among the gang of four, which company is most at risk to stumble? It's quite possible that Google may be among those most likely to fumble as it wrestles with size and continuing to innovate. Thoughts?

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