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Google's Schmidt says Samsung had iPhone 6-like product last year, calls Apple competition 'brutal'

During an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, Google chairman Eric Schmidt was grilled on the launch of Apple's iPhone 6, but played off the record debut by saying Samsung got there first.

As part of a publicity tour for his book "How Google Works," Schmidt agreed to take part in an interview on Market Makers with co-author and SVP Jonathan Rosenberg, but it seems the pair was not prepared for what followed.

Shortly after exchanging salutations, co-anchors Stephanie Ruhle and Erik Schatzker dispensed with the softball questions and proceeded to conduct a fairly probing exchange, touching on Apple, Android and Google at large.

Ruhle was first to broach the subject of Apple, asking Schmidt what he felt when seeing the long lines that formed at Apple Stores when the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launched last week.

"I'll tell you what I think," Schmidt said. "Samsung had these products a year ago."

Ruhle quickly pointed out, however, that Samsung's Galaxy device launches failed to spark the fervor witnessed at Apple Stores around the world, where customers eagerly lined up to wait overnight — in some cases days — to be among the first iPhone 6 owners. Apple later announced first weekend sales hit a record 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units.

The question was again rebuffed, with Schmidt repeating, "I think Samsung had the products a year ago, that's what I think."

Co-anchor Erik Schatzker followed up Ruhle's line of questions by digging into Android's business model, noting smartphone makers that license the mobile OS are unable to keep pace with Apple iPhone revenue. The venture is a money maker for Google, but Apple is able to trump even the likes of Samsung when it comes to profits.

"The fact of the matter is you can make a small marketshare with a lot of profits, or you can make the same amount of money with a much larger marketshare with lesser profits." Schmidt said. "We go for volume in our strategies."

Schmidt went on to characterize Google's competition with Apple as "brutal" and is the "defining fight of the computer industry today." With the two companies waging battle in the marketplace, the Google chairman said consumers are the real winners as the fight is a catalyst for smartphone innovation, more choices and lower costs.