Eric Schmidt on Google Maps on iOS: ‘We think it would have been better if they had kept ours. But what do I know?’

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was in Tokyo last night demonstrating some Google Maps features, and he unsurprisingly spoke about the current iOS Maps debate. Reuters and Bloomberg were both on hand to collect his musings.

“We think it would have been better if they had kept ours. But what do I know?” Schmidt told a small group of reporters in Tokyo. “What [are] were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It’s their call.”

Bloomberg reported that he commented on the state of the Google Maps iOS app submission thusly:

“We haven’t done anything yet with Google Maps,” Schmidt told reporters in Tokyo today. Apple would “have to approve it. It’s their choice,” Schmidt said, declining to say if the Mountain View, California-based company submitted an application to Apple for sale through its App Store.

We, along with a host of others, reported earlier that the Google Maps iOS app was ready and it was up to Apple to decide what to do. Whether Google goes through the typical developer App Store approval process or it has back channel approval is semantics. The point is the ball is in Apple’s court, which Schmidt confirmed.

Google showed the video below of its new Google Now Search product over a month ago, which is still sitting in the App Store approval gauntlet. Whether that is the typical App Store approval folks or perhaps some more senior strategy folks outside of the typical channels is probably not a hard question to figure out.

However, Schmidt said Google is still ready to partner with Apple: “I’m not doing any predictions. We want them to be our partner. We welcome that. I’m not going to speculate at all what they’re going to do. They can answer that question as they see fit…”

“Apple is the exception, and the Android system is the common model, which is why our market share is so much higher,” Schmidt said, adding that success was often ignored by the media, which he said was “obsessed with Apple’s marketing events and Apple’s branding.”

It would not be a Schmidt press conference without at least one “joke”…

Schmidt did not disappoint when demoing a new feature of Google Maps:

The feature allows users to shift their view of an area by moving the device in the air without touching the screen, similar to the effect of looking around.

“Take that Apple,” he said, adding quickly, “That was a joke by the way.”

Another Google executive commented last week on Google Maps on iOS.

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