Why is Google's Schmidt still on Apple's board?

That's the valid question asked by CNBC analyst Jim Goldman in a report on Google's upcoming earnings call. Isn't there something about conflict of interest and not having the CEO of a strong, direct competitor on your board?

We've already seen the soft underbelly of the Schmidt-Apple relationship come to light, when Google caved to Apple and voluntary dropped the iPhone's signature multitouch capability from the G1. And Goldman points out that the Google-Apple relationship is only set to get more tangled, now that several vendors, including HP, are considering using Google's Android as their netbook OS of choice. Wouldn't such arrangements catapult Google (and Schmidt) into even more direct competition with Apple?

Goldman predicts that once a netbook maker actually does settle on Android and begin shipping notebooks based on the nascent OS, Schmidt may end up forced to step down. As he says:

All of this puts Google CEO Eric Schmidt in an increasingly adversarial position with Apple since he sits on the company's board. At some point, and I think soon, Schmidt will have to step down from Apple's board. To me, it's amazing he's lasted this long.

Exactly. And all this makes today's earnings call even more interesting. Could today be the day Schmidt announces his break from Apple? Just wondering.

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