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Sun Valley roundup: Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Apple and more

There's plenty of high-profile buzz coming from Sun Valley, Idaho, where media executives have gathered for the annual Allen & Co. conference, considered to be an exclusive event for the who's who in the world of media and technology.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive on

There's plenty of high-profile buzz coming from Sun Valley, Idaho, where media executives have gathered for the annual Allen & Co. conference, considered to be an exclusive event for the who's who in the world of media and technology. Among the big questions capturing some attention:

  • Will News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch broker a deal to buy Twitter?
  • What does Bill Gates think of Google's Chrome OS?
  • Will Google CEO Eric Schmidt be recusing himself from more discussions on the Apple Board of Directors? And what did he know about Steve Jobs' liver transplant?

Of course, these are the questions being asked. That doesn't mean there will be any answers.

The Guardian focused its news story around the Twitter buzz, noting that the Twitter held a board meeting on the eve of the event, creating some speculation that discussions might have been centered around a deal being brokered at Sun Valley - specifically whether Murdoch is interested.

The Wall Street Journal, by contrast, focused its news story around a Google press conference at the event, which brought Schmidt and co-founder Larry Page to the stage together. Chrome  - both the browser and the OS that was announced this week - was an idea that Schmidt initially resisted. He had seen the fallout from the last browser war and wasn't interested - though he admits that the founders wore him down and finally convinced him to make the move. Today, he calls Chrome a "game-changer."

Schmidt also addressed his role as a member of Apple's board of directors and whether he'll have to further recuse himself from discussions about Mac OS X, seeing how Chrome comes into the game as a computer operating system. He has recused himself from discussions about the iPhone in the past because it competes with devices that run Google's Android mobile OS. There was no mention of a resignation from the board, as was called for in an open letter from CNET's Tom Krazit this week.

As for what Schmidt knew about Steve Jobs' medical condition, the Los Angeles Times reports Schmidt as saying that the board was "well informed" about his medical condition but elaborated no further.

The Seattle Times chimed in on a small exchange between Schmidt and Bill Gates:

As he headed out the door to lunch, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates paused to consider a question about Google's plans to develop a computer operating system that will rival Microsoft's Windows.

Just as Gates said, "No comment," Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt grabbed him gently from behind and said, "It would be better if you didn't make that comment."

The rivals shook hands as they strolled down the stairs to the sound of loud laughter as photographers captured the best picture of the summit so far.

Finally, there was also the matter of the 800-pound gorilla in the room: the economy.

Schmidt made reference to the "new normal," a world where credit is not widely available, inventories are run tight and money is kept close to the hip. The mood at the show as it relates to the economy, he said, is "somber." Reuters wrote:

(Schmidt) said there had been talk during one presentation of a "square root recovery," meaning the economy could rebound then remain flat, like the shape of the square root sign.

"We're through the shock, we're through the collapse. I would argue the worst is behind us, speaking generally, not specifically to Google," Schmidt said, but added that there were no strong signs of an immediate recovery.

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