Schmidt 2010: ‘Tell me the difference between a large phone and a tablet’

March 2, 2011, 3:35 PM UTC
Image representing Eric Schmidt as depicted in...
Image via CrunchBase

A lot (15 million iPads sold) can happen in a year.

On the morning of the iPad 2 launch, it is interesting to remember just over one year ago, Eric Schmidt at Davos 2010 said of Apple’s (AAPL) just-announced iPad and tablets in general:

His opinion of the iPad? He never commented on other companies. Though he couldn’t quite resist a lateral jab: “You might want to tell me the difference between a large phone and a tablet.”

Here we are a year later and Google (GOOG) already has a version of Android that is specifically designed for tablets.  Two observations on this:

Even the “biggest minds” in tech didn’t see this coming. Schmidt is always waxing poetic about the technology future yet at the time of the iPad launch, he didn’t know if there was a difference between a big phone and a tablet.

Perhaps more importantly and impressive: Google’s Android team did get the message at some point and conjured up a Tablet OS in much less than a year that by most accounts is at least the second best out there and improving rapidly.  Contrast Google to Microsoft (MSFT) which has a decade of tablet work under its belt and can only say it will have an ARM version of Windows “in the next couple of years.”  Windows 7 tablets are mostly mocked by the press and reviewers.

Google did have a big initial presence in the original iOS device (the iPhone — video below) and its Maps and YouTube power (at least at the moment) two of the iPads default applications.


Interesting exchange at the end of the video where Jobs says, “As a board member, you get one of the first iPhone.”  Schmidt replies, “That’s why I joined the board!”