Former Google CEO (and current Alphabet Executive Chairman) Eric Schmidt continues to play a large role in the mobile technology landscape. He began his tenure at Google in 2001 when Larry Page and Sergey Brin hired him as CEO of the very young company (replacing Page, who was the former CEO), and he played a large hand in transforming Google into one of the world’s most successful tech companies. He also had a critical role in Google’s acquisition of Android in 2006, and contributed greatly to the platform’s development and massive growth in the late 2000s. Schmidt eventually relinquished his position back to Larry Page in 2011, and he’s been serving on the company’s board ever since. While he might not be as hands-on with day-to-day operations anymore, he’s still very active behind-the-scenes and continues to generate plenty of headlines in his new role.
Schmidt was present in South Korea for the historic Go match between current Go world champion Lee Se-dol and Google Deepmind’s AlphaGo AI program. The match represented a milestone for artificial intelligence as AlphaGo defeated Se-dol in the first of five matches. Schmidt had a front row seat at the event’s press conference, where he was spotted casually taking pictures with what appears to be an iPhone 6 or 6S. The exact model is unclear from the photograph because the device was wrapped in a case, but there’s very little doubt it’s one of Apple’s most recent iPhone models.
While some might find it shocking that Schmidt would be using a device manufactured by one of Google’s biggest competitors, he’s never shied away from using other non-Android devices in the past. He once famously admitted (well before the launch of the BlackBerry Priv) that he still used BlackBerry devices because he liked typing with hardware keys, and he’s even given Apple tremendous praise despite the fierce rivalry between Apple and Google. Android and iOS enthusiasts will likely generate plenty of chatter over Schmidt’s choice of handset, but there’s probably not much to read into it. He’s always had a tremendous talent for sizing-up the competition, and he even had a brief stint as a member of Apple’s board of directors. Moreover, he was probably far more interested in Google’s Go match victory than in whatever phone he was using.