Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has listed Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook as the "gang of four" that he believes currently dominates the technology industry.
Schmidt spoke candidly about the main players in the technology industry, and the future of the internet and privacy, on Tuesday at the annual D: All Things Digital conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
"Each of them is a consumer brand that provides something you can't do otherwise, and what's different now is that these are global companies with reach and economies that 10 or 20 years ago one company had," he told attendees.
"So the question is fundamentally, can each of the companies that I named maintain their excellence, literally the product excellence that's required as the technology moves forward?"
Schmidt noted that Facebook in particular addressed an area of the internet that had been missing, namely identity.
"Facebook has done a number of things which I admire. We've tried very hard to partner with Facebook. Traditionally, they've done deals with Microsoft," he said.
Interestingly, Schmidt declined to name Microsoft as a big player, referring only to the company's strength in the enterprise.
"[The enterprise is] a flywheel that will power Microsoft and what they are doing for many decades," he said.
In another swipe at Microsoft, the former Google chief executive said that people concerned about computer security should use his company's Chrome browser and a Mac instead of a PC.
Schmidt also shared his thoughts about the future of the internet, pointing to several obstacles that need to be overcome.
"As the internet becomes more controversial, [owing to] the lack of harmony between different laws with respect to privacy, publicity [and] access to information, I am very concerned that we'll end up with one internet per country," he said.
With all the controversy surrounding Google in relation to privacy matters, it was no surprise that the topic was raised at the conference.
Schmidt stated that Google is very committed to allowing internet users to retain control of their information, claiming that this is illustrated by the firm's opt-in policy for services.
"Google will remain a place where you can do anonymous searches where we don't know anything about you. From our perspective the ultimate answer is transparency: we tell people what we know and we give them the choice of getting it deleted," he said.
"If you use our various products that do social things - Latitude and a couple of other things like that - you have to explicitly choose that. There is a certain amount of information that goes back to Google, which is anonymised and we do not store it."
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