* Schmidt says didn't push hard enough on social
* Says has renewed maps partnership with Apple
(Adds dateline, comments from speech, background)
By Alexei Oreskovic and Sarah McBride
PALOS VERDES, Calif./SAN FRANCISCO, May 31 (Reuters) -
Google Inc confessed it tried unsuccessfully to team up
with Facebook, as the search giant adapts to a shifting
technology landscape and strives to maintain growth.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told a conference on
Tuesday that social networking site Facebook had rebuffed its
entreaties to do a deal, while acknowledging he had not pushed
hard enough to address the rising threat posed by Facebook
during his tenure as CEO.
"Three years ago I wrote memos talking about this general
problem. I knew that I had to do something and I failed to do
it," Schmidt said.
"A CEO should take responsibility," he said. "I screwed up."
Schmidt, who ended his 10-year run as CEO in April and
handed the reins to 38-year-old Google co-founder Larry Page,
made the comments at the D9 conference organized by the blog
Google, which generated roughly $29 billion in gross revenue
last year, is the world's No.1 search engine. But its core
advertising business is under threat from rapidly growing
upstarts such as Facebook and Groupon, while the emergence of
new computing gadgets has spurred a growing rivalry with
During a nearly 90-minute onstage interview, Schmidt
discussed the increasingly competitive landscape, as well as the
growing privacy and regulatory scrutiny it is facing.
But he seemed dismissive of software giant Microsoft
, which was "not driving the consumer revolution."
A former Apple board member, Schmidt admitted their
relationship had gotten "rough" as Google began to develop its
Android smartphone operating system, though they remained
partners in certain businesses.
Google recently renewed a partnership with Apple in
which Google provides map technology featured on the iPhone, he
GROUPON, AND GOOGLE
Giving the audience a glimpse of efforts to jumpstart
growth, Schmidt showed off a new online coupon service slated to
launch in Portland, Oregon Wednesday, that will allow the online
giant to compete with Groupon and its ilk.
He said the company will soon announce thousands of
merchants for a service twinned with a mobile-payments system
that lets consumers tap their phones to pay at the checkout
Schmidt is among the more than a dozen tech industry
executives slated to speak at the conference, taking place this
week at an upscale resort in Southern California.
Other scheduled speakers include the chief executives of
Walt Disney Co , Hewlett-Packard , Twitter, Zynga,
Groupon and Alibaba.
With more than 26,000 employees, Google has used its vast
resources to expand into various markets beyond Web search,
including phone and television, online productivity software and
even electronic books.
Its Android software has become the No. 1 smartphone
operating system after less than three years on the market.
But investors are increasingly impatient to see a return
from these initiatives, and fret that new CEO Page's
free-spending ways may pressure profit margins.
Shares of Google, which underperformed the market in 2010,
are down roughly 16 percent since the company announced in
January that Page would replace Schmidt.
Asked about the difference between his stint as CEO and
Page's, Schmidt said that Page would have "much greater product
rigor" and move even more quickly than he was able to.
One of the areas some Wall Street investors complain it has
not moved swiftly enough, is social networking.
Schmidt did not specify what sort of deal with Facebook he
had tried to secure, but noted that Google's search could be
improved with access to Facebook's vast trove of data about Web
surfers' friends and acquaintances.
"We tried very hard to partner with Facebook," Schmidt said.
"They were unwilling to do the deal," he added, noting that
Facebook had traditionally partnered with Microsoft.
(Additional reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Dhara