The ongoing battle between Apple and Google for supremacy in the mobile market is the "defining fight" in the industry, according to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
Speaking at the AllThingsD conference on Wednesday (video embedded below), Schmidt said that as the two firms wrestle for control of the mobile market, the overall winners would be end users.
"The Android-Apple platform fight is the defining fight in the industry today," he said. "We've not seen platform/networks fights at this scale. The beneficiary is you guys [consumers]. Prices are dropping rapidly. That's a wonderful value proposition."
The comment underlines the animosity between the two firms that has grown over the last few years.
Schmidt used to sit on Apple's board but as the two firm's rivalry grew rapidly he stepped down, while former Apple chief executive Steve Jobs was furious with Android which he saw as a copy of the iOS operating system.
This has led to numerous high-profile patent cases between Apple and manufacturers using Android, notably Samsung, on issues of design and software.
Schmidt said he found the patent battles upsetting, calling them "death" for the industry.
"Software is always overlapping. There are estimates there are some 200,000 patents that cover devices in the market so we are seeing fight after fight based on prior art and in every case there is some prior art that invalidates a patent," he said. "This is bad for innovation for the software industry, it eliminates choice."
Schmidt avoided the topic of whether we can expect a new maps app on Apple, but was very clear on one point in the Google vs. Apple fight: "Apple should have kept with our maps."
“The fact of the matter is they decided a long time ago to do their own maps, and we saw this coming with their acquisitions," Schmidt said. "I think Apple has learned that maps are hard. We invested hundred of millions of dollars in satellite work, airplane work, drive-by work, and we think we have the best product in the industry.”