Schmidt: room for more than one social network

Google is leaving open the door to more co-operation with Facebook and Twitter, executive chairman Eric Schmidt said.

Schmidt: room for more than one social network

Schmidt said Google believes there is room for multiple social networks as it rolls out its own speaking to journalists at the Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Schmidt, who vacated his CEO seat to co-founder Larry Page in April and now oversees government affairs, said it was too early to say how its new social network, Google+, was faring – but one key indication of success is the number of people clamoring to be part of the limited group currently using the service, which launched in trial mode last week.

Google would love to have deeper integration with Twitter and Facebook

One of the more popular features on Google+, especially with younger users, was online video chat, he said.

Singling out two services where Google+ can now be viewed as a competitor, Schmidt said he would “love to have deeper integration with Twitter and Facebook”.

Google’s search deal with Twitter recently expired, and despite “a substantive and lengthy discussion,” the companies couldn’t agree on terms, he said.

And Google’s overtures to Facebook to discuss letting Google+ users import Facebook friends also went nowhere, Schmidt said.

Schmidt laid out a future with multiple sources of online identity and multiple social networks, even as detractors say Facebook’s service, with millions of users around the world, is too entrenched to allow for serious competition.

Other challenges

Schmidt also said Google executives – though not he himself – had discussed the recent hacking of email accounts with Chinese officials.

Google last month revealed a major hacker attack that it said originated within China. It said hackers tried to steal the passwords of hundreds of Google email account-holders, including those of senior government officials, Chinese activists and journalists.

“We tell the Chinese what we know… and then they publicly deny their role. That’s all I have to say about that,” Schmidt said.

Closer to home, the US Federal Trade Commission has started a formal review of Google’s business, raising concerns among investors about a lengthy, distracting probe and potential legal action. “We’ve had some meetings internally, (but) we haven’t changed anything,” Schmidt said.

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