Oiling the digital society

Squabbling about competition between companies is far less important than the effect they're having on all of us, says Bill Thompson.

The announcement that Google's chief executive Eric Schmidt is standing down from the Apple board hardly came as a surprise.
Google's Android is already powering smartphones that offer an open alternative to Apple's iPhone, while the recent announcement of plans for Chrome OS - an operating system that will directly challenge Mac OS - makes Google a direct competitor to Apple in its core market.

Apple's recent decision to keep Google Voice out of the iPhone App Store must surely have increased tension on the board, and may have been the last straw.

The move not only annoyed customers, who wanted to take advantage of the single phone number and voice-over-IP calls it offers, but has also invited the attention of the US Federal Communications Commission. It has asked Apple, Google and network provider AT&T to provide it with details of their decision making process.

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