Tech industry titans Tim Cook and Eric Schmidt took their battle for corporate domination to the heart of Europe today seeking to win over new startups and IT enthusiasts.
In a rare move, Apple chief executive Cook and his bitter rival, Alphabet boss Schmidt appeared at the opening day of a seminar organised in Amsterdam for the week-long Startup Europe Fest — although they did not take the stage together.
And Schmidt, chief executive for Alphabet and former Google boss, triggered laughter when he revealed he had an iPhone — made by his rival — in his pocket as well as a Samsung.
When an audience show of hands revealed more people had an iPhone than an Android, Schmidt said ironically: “So much for the Android monopoly in Europe.”
“The Samsung is better, has a better battery. Are we clear?” he insisted. “And to those of you who are iPhone users, I’m right!”
At the top of the corporate world, Apple and Google are in a back-and-forth battle to be number one.
It’s not clear which of the two Silicon Valley giants will emerge on top in a contest which highlights the contrast of very different business models.
The two companies have a virtual duopoly on the smartphone market, but Apple makes its own hardware and software while Google provides only the free Android software for handsets, including many made by low-cost manufacturers.
“Part of our job is to seed the market with ideas,” Schmidt said, as the two men lobbed a series of jabs at each other’s companies in their separate appearances.
Eric Schmidt also urged more European entrepreneurs to take a risk and get behind start-ups, saying Google was hiring thousands of Europeans every year because they had nowhere to go to on their home continent.
Apple was meanwhile on a mission “to bring the app economy to places where it’s missed, because … we recognise it hasn’t gone everywhere yet and we want it to very much,” Cook told the Amsterdam forum.
“There is nothing like … unlocking the creativity and innovation of millions of people,” he said.
He also defended Apple from accusations that it was operating a kind of “closed” policy on its app store.
There were now two million apps on the Apple store, “that doesn’t sound too closed. We do curate … there’s certain things we don’t want to sell like pornography,” he added.