* Schmidt will talk to Apple about recusing himself
* Schmidt was kept informed about Jobs' medical leave
By Yinka Adegoke
SUN VALLEY, Idaho, July 9 Google Inc (GOOG.O)
Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said he will discuss with Apple
Inc (AAPL.O) how his role on its board might change after
Google's move to launch a new operating system.
Because Google's new Chrome OS would compete with Apple's
own computer software, Schmidt said on Thursday he would talk
to the Mac computer maker about whether he should recuse
himself from Apple's board.
"I'll talk to the Apple people. At the moment, there's no
issue," Schmidt told reporters at a Sun Valley media and
technology conference organized by boutique investment bank
Allen & Co.
While Google and Apple compete directly or indirectly in a
number of areas -- the most obvious being the smartphone market
-- Google's announcement this week that it will launch an
operating system raised more questions about the relationship
between their boards. [ID:nL8468341]
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is currently looking into
whether the ties between the boards violate antitrust laws.
Schmidt and former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson are directors
of both companies.
Under federal antitrust law, a person is not allowed to sit
on the board of two companies if it decreases competition
Schmidt began recusing himself from Apple board meetings
where the iPhone was discussed after Google launched its own
Android mobile phone operating system.
Google's Chrome OS -- expected to debut in netbooks in the
second half of 2010 -- would compete directly with Apple's OS X
Schmidt said Chrome, which is based on open-source
technology, worked with Apple's Safari browser.
"There's a very large collaboration with respect to Chrome
and Safari," he said.
Schmidt also said he was kept well abreast of the
circumstances surrounding Apple founder Steve Jobs' medical
leave of absence.
In January, Jobs began a nearly six-month leave to seek
treatment for unspecified health issues. He received a liver
transplant while on leave, and returned to work last week.
Apple and its board have been criticized by some observers
for failing to disclose the exact state of Jobs' health.
"I was extremely well-informed as a board member with what
was going on with Steve," Schmidt said. He declined to comment
further on the matter.
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, writing by Gabriel Madway; Edit
ing by Dhara Ranasinghe))