In a Thursday night talk at the Allen & Company media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt discussed some of the issues that the web giant is currently facing, including the launch of Google+, his desire for cooperation with fellow social networks, and recent government-led antitrust probes.
Schmidt told a group of reporters that it’s too early to guess how Google+ is faring, but said that there has been a huge demand for invitations to the new social networking site and that the video chat feature has been especially popular with younger users. If the “social circle” concept of Google+ proves successful, the company could spread it across other Google products, including search and YouTube. “There is a lot coming,” he said.
Schmidt said that he believes there’s room for multiple online social networks and that he would “love to have deeper integration with Twitter and Facebook”—but the potential rivals don’t seem to have the same warm feeling toward Google. Twitter and Google’s “real-time search” deal recently expired after two years of disputes, and despite “a substantive and lengthy discussion” between the two companies, they couldn’t agree on terms, said Schmidt. “We hope to have a new and different agreement, but at the moment we are disconnected,” he added.
Meanwhile, Facebook has blocked a Google Chrome “Friend Exporter” extension that would allow people to export their Facebook friend lists and contact information to other platforms, like Google+. Schmidt said that Google’s attempts at discussing the issue with Facebook have led nowhere. Although he avoided making any direct comparisons between Facebook and Google+, Schmidt did concede, “We have a somewhat different view of privacy.”
During the talk, Schmidt also addressed the antitrust probes that Google is facing from the FTC and European Commission, saying that the company plans to cooperate fully with the investigations but won’t let them disrupt or distract Google’s strategy. “We are calm about this. There is not a lot of drama,” he said. “We've had some meetings internally, [but] we haven't changed anything.”