Apple's choice not to sue Google directly 'extremely curious,' says Schmidt

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In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, former Google CEO and current Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt talked briefly about how his company is slowly drifting away from Apple, and commented that existing litigation is likely to continue "for a while."

Although just a small portion of a larger discussion ranging from a possible antitrust lawsuit to Google's future in telecommunications, Schmidt's thoughts on Apple offered a glimpse into the two companies' souring alliance.

Speaking directly to how things have changed between Apple and Google over the past year, Schmidt alluded that the relationship ran hot and cold.

"Obviously, we would have preferred them to use our maps," the Google exec said of Apple's choice to replace the longstanding Google Maps-powered iOS app for a proprietary solution in iOS 6. "They threw YouTube off the home screen [of iOS devices]. I'm not quite sure why they did that."

In response, the internet search giant released a standalone YouTube app, which was just today updated with native iPad and iPhone 5 support, and is rumored to be working on a similar offering for its mapping service.

Schmidt noted that the press shoulders some of the blame for painting a picture of two warring corporations, an illustration that is apparently false. He believes both Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page must run their respective companies like "adults," and are doing so as talks continue despite ongoing legal disputes.

As for a possible patent settlement, Schmidt was cagey and wouldn't say what Google had planned in the way of upcoming litigation.

"Apple and Google are well aware of the legal strategies of each other," he said. "Part of the conversations that are going on all the time is to talk about them. It's extremely curious that Apple has chosen to sue Google's partners and not Google itself."

Schmidt sees the active and pending suits continuing "for a while" as both Apple and Google are on relatively stable financial footing. However, he pointed out that the court struggle is more likely to have a negative impact on small start-ups, not huge established businesses.

"There's a young [Android and Danger co-founder] Andy Rubin trying to form a new version of Danger," Schmidt explained. "How is he or she going to be able to get the patent coverage necessary to offer version one of their product? That's the real consequence of this."