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Schmidt Evades and Creighton Cleans Up in Senate Testimony

In another puzzling back-and-forth during the Senate hearing, Google’s witnesses seemed once again unable to get their stories straight. Senator Franken questioned Schmidt about his company’s dominance in the mobile market, focusing on Google’s practice of pre-installing Google apps on phones that use Google’s Android Operating System. Schmidt, who has lead Google for a decade, was again conveniently clueless about his company’s products:

Franken: OK. If I am a customer and want to use Yelp instead of Google Places, is it easy for me to delete Google places on my phone and upload Yelp?

Schmidt: Well, Google Places is essentially a result from search results. So if you simply used — if you didn’t use Google Search, you wouldn’t have Google Places at all. And Yelp is available through all the browsers that are available on Android, and so Yelp is always available independent of that.

Franken: I’m talking about as an app.

Schmidt: It’s not an app. Google Places is not an application on Android. It’s a result from search.

Senator Franken seemed more on top of how Google’s products work than the company’s own Chairman since Google Places is integrated into the Google Maps app, which is impossible to remove from an Android mobile phone. Later, Schmidt’s outside antitrust counsel Susan Creighton corrected his error:

Creighton: Thank you, Senator. And before I begin my remarks, Mr. Schmidt asked me to clarify for the record that Google Places and Yelp are both applications or apps — mobile apps, so. Mr. Schmidt asked me to clarify that both Places — Google Places and Yelp are mobile apps.

Franken: In response to my question?

Creighton: That’s correct.

Franken: All right, thank you.

So was Schmidt simply mis-informed about how Android works, or was he deliberately being dishonest in response to Senator Franken’s direct question? One thing is clear: Schmidt is afraid the Senators will find out the truth about how Google tries to lock out competition.