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Tue 4 Aug 2009 04:00 AM

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Schmidt steps down

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, has resigned his position as a board member of Apple.

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, has walked away from his position on the board of Apple amid scrutiny over a potential conflict of interest.

The move follows on from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States launching an inquiry into whether the sharing of board members between Apple and Google violates antitrust laws. Despite Schmidt's resignation, the FTC has announced that they will be pressing ahead with the investigation.

"We will continue to investigate remaining interlocking directorates between the companies," Richard Feinstein, director of the FTC's bureau of competition told Reuters.

The official announcement from Apple only mentions Schmidt, who has been a board member of the fruit-themed company since 2006. Arthur Levinson, formerly the CEO of Genentech, is still a member of both Google and Apple’s board of directors.

“Unfortunately, as Google enters more of Apple’s core businesses, with Android and now Chrome OS, Eric’s effectiveness as an Apple Board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest. Therefore, we have mutually decided that now is the right time for Eric to resign his position on Apple’s Board,” said Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple.

When the FTC first announced the probe, Schmidt told a media session before Google’s shareholder meeting that he had not considered stepping down from Apple’s board, even if the search giant was thinking of getting into the mobile phone business, according to a report by the Inquirer. Schmidt also pointed out that he always formally recused himself from all Apple board discussions involving the Iphone.

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