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Google Chairman Says Mistake Was Missing Social Networks

Google Inc. (GOOG) Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said missing the rise of social media was the biggest mistake he made at the world’s largest search-engine operator.

“In our defense, we were busy working on many other things but we should have been in that area and I take responsibility for that,” he said in an interview on Bloomberg Television yesterday.

Schmidt led Google as chief executive officer from 2001 until 2011 when he became executive chairman, during which time the Mountain View, California-based company went public and became a go-to site for search and advertising. Yet Google initially paid little attention to Facebook Inc. (FB), which started in 2004 and has since become the world’s biggest social network with more than 1 billion members who use the service to connect and share interactions with friends.

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Facebook and Google are now locked in a battle for online and mobile advertising dollars. To compete in social networking, Google introduced a Google+ social service in 2011.

Google said in October that it has about 300 million consumers who visit the Google+ stream of content from friends, while the total users logged in to the service who undertake a monthly social action -- including surfers who watch a video on YouTube recommended by a friend or endorse a search result -- is 540 million.

Not seeing the rise of social networking is “not a mistake we’re going to make again,” said Schmidt in the interview.

He also predicted 2014 would be a victory lap for mobile computing.

“The trend has been that mobile was winning. It’s now won,” he said. The ubiquity of hand-held computers will open up new possibilities for applications in entertainment, education and social life, Schmidt said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gerrit De Vynck in Toronto at gdevynck@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Pui-Wing Tam at ptam13@bloomberg.net

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