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Google chief says M$ no competition

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Software giant Microsoft has set out to topple search king Google, but to listen to Eric Schmidt you almost wouldn't think the two companies were rivals.

Google's chief executive, appearing in Seattle yesterday, acknowledged Microsoft's push into the search business but said there's ample room for multiple competitors to thrive. He also downplayed the notion of Google as a threat to the Redmond company's dominant software franchises.

"It looks to me like this space is so large that there will be multiple winners," Schmidt told the audience at the Technology Alliance annual luncheon in downtown Seattle. "There's plenty of room for all the players."

Asked to identify Google's primary competition, Schmidt pointed first to Yahoo! -- saying it has "emerged as the major, major competitor in this space." He then noted that Microsoft has also launched its own Internet search engine but observed that the Redmond company is "just getting going" in the business.

Later in the day, addressing University of Washington computer science students, Schmidt gave a similar response but went further -- saying that Microsoft is "not a significant competitor yet" in the search business.

"Although I'm sure they'll try," he added, drawing a round of knowing laughter from the crowd.

Some who listened to Schmidt yesterday said they weren't surprised to hear him downplay the notion of Microsoft as a major competitor.

Microsoft's executives, in contrast, seem to be very focused on Google.

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