In a move that comes as little surprise, Apple announced on Monday that Google chief executive Eric Schmidt has resigned from its board of directors.
"Eric has been an excellent board member for Apple, investing his valuable time, talent, passion and wisdom to help make Apple successful," Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said in a press release. "Unfortunately, as Google enters more of Apple's core businesses, with Android and now Chrome OS, Eric's effectiveness as an Apple board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest. Therefore, we have mutually decided that now is the right time for Eric to resign his position on Apple's board."
Schmidt had been on Apple's board for almost exactly three years, since August 2006.
In May, Google confirmed that the US Federal Trade Commission was planning to hold discussions concerning potential conflicts of interest related to Schmidt's presence on both companies' boards of directors. Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, said at the time that Google did not believe there was a problem with the situation.
Schmidt has said repeatedly that he withdrew himself from Apple board discussions pertaining to areas in which the companies' interests overlap -- the iPhone, for example, given Google's work on the Android operating system for smart phones. But the situation became more problematic when Google announced the development of its Chrome operating system, which will compete directly with Apple's OS. The companies already own competing Web browsers: Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome.
Last month, Schmidt said that he was planning to discuss the future of his role on Apple's board given the advent of Chrome OS.
More recently, Google's third-party applications for the iPhone -- which comes preinstalled with Google Maps -- received well-publicised scrutiny from Apple. Google's location-aware service Latitude, for example, has been restricted to a Web-based app rather than an installable one, and a Google Voice telephony app was rejected by Apple.