Eric Schmidt Takes Responsibility For Google’s Social Networking Failures

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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We should have seen Facebook was coming, says Google’s chairman

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt has taken personal responsibility for his company’s failure to anticipate the growing importance of social networks.

In an interview with Bloomberg, he said that Google should have recognised the social trend much earlier, and promised it was “not a mistake we’re going to make again.”

The chairman also called 2014 the year of mobile computing, and predicted smartphones and tablets would cause important changes in social life, education and entertainment.

Should’a, could’a

According to Forbes, Schmidt is the 138th-richest person in the world, with a fortune worth $8.3 billion. He had previously worked at Bell Labs, Xerox, Sun Microsystems and served as the CEO of Novell from 1997 to 2001.

googleplusSchmidt joined Google in March 2001, using his experience to help the co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin navigate the corporate world. Although the three ran the company as a triumvirate, Schmidt was Google’s CEO until 2011, when he was replaced by Page.

Despite the company’s dominance in online search, advertising and content aggregation markets, its then-CEO was slow to notice the trend towards content sharing and social interaction online.

Today, Facebook has over one billion active monthly users and is competing with Google for advertising dollars. Google’s own social network features about 540 million accounts, but most of them have been registered to take advantage of YouTube and cloud services offered by the company, and the number of actual active users is much lower.

“In our defence, we were busy working on many other things but we should have been in that area and I take responsibility for that,” said Schmidt in an interview on the New Year’s Day.

On the upside, he mentioned Google’s Android efforts and said that mobile devices are finally becoming primary computing platforms. “The trend has been that mobile was winning. It’s now won,” said the chairman.

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