By Carl HoweThis has got to be creating heartburn in Redmond. In an announcement late last night (at least on the east coast), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) said Google CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt is joining Apple's Board of Directors.
Now let's see. The most popular search engine on the planet now will have some influence on the company that has so far dominated digital music (and soon movies as well). And oh, by the way, the CEO of that company happens to be the largest shareholder in Disney (NYSE:DIS)/ABC/ESPN as well. Suddenly, having a monopoly on corporate desktops doesn't seem quite so, well, so much a ticket to world domination. Oh my.
What can we expect from this development? My prediction: nothing. Despite the potential for spying all kinds of conspiracy theories in this move, my guess is that this was just Jobs and company saying, "Hey, Eric is a smart guy and knows a lot of what's going on in places that Apple isn't. We could use his advice." But if nothing else, this shows that the battle for the consumer living room and desktops isn't as one-sided as conventional wisdom would suggest. After all, the combined market capitalization of Disney, Apple, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is about the same as the market cap of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). And with $30 billion of Microsoft's capital committed to stock buybacks for the next year or so, these three companies will have influence and dollars that can shape the future of media, entertainment, and the Internet.
And that's good news for everyone -- except Microsoft shareholders.
AAPL-GOOG 1-yr comparison chart: