SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Google chairman Eric Schmidt on Tuesday defended his company as a great innovator despite allegations from late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs that the Internet search giant stole ideas from Apple's iPhone.
Schmidt also told reporters that he is still "very sad and recovering from the sense of loss" from Jobs' death last month and does not think it's right to comment on Jobs' words in Walter Issacson's biography.
The biography was released after Jobs' death. In it, Jobs argues that Google Inc. stole from Apple's iPhone to build many of the features in Google's Android software for rival phones.
"I decided not to comment on comments that are written in the book after his death. I don't think it's right," Schmidt said, describing Jobs as a "fantastic human being" who he "dearly" misses.
Jobs died Oct. 5, aged 56, after a battle with cancer. Schmidt served on the Apple Inc. board from 2006 to 2009 but quit as Google and Apple went head-to-head in smartphones — Apple with its iPhone and Google with its Android software.
"Most people would agree that Google is a great innovator, and I would also point out that the Android efforts started before the iPhone efforts. And that's all I have to say," Schmidt said.
Schmidt has been meeting with senior government and business officials, including South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Monday, during his three-day trip here.
Marveling at South Korea's Internet infrastructure, where 90 percent of households enjoy broadband access, Schmidt said he also told Lee that Seoul needs to trim down its Internet regulations.
"It is my view and, I think, Google's view that the regulation of Internet in Korea could be more open, more modern," he said. "Other countries had more liberal policies in some cases about the Internet, and they should examine them."
Schmidt said he did not go into specifics with Lee. He also did not elaborate during the press conference.
Since 2009, Google has banned users from South Korea from posting videos on YouTube in protest of Seoul's policy mandating the use of real names for sign-ups on websites. The South Korean government stands by that policy, saying it improves accountability.
Because of Google's ban, many South Korean users fake their nationalities on YouTube to upload videos. They are not blocked from viewing video, even if they are registered as users from South Korea.
"I think that the next thing for you all as a country to think about is more than hardware and infrastructure, but really about openness," Schmidt said.
Schmidt's visit to South Korea is his first since 2007, according to Google.