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Schmidt takes blame for Google's social failure

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of search giant Google, has taken the blame for the company's failure to compete with the rising growth of Facebook.

In an interview with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg at AllThingsD, Schmidt said: “I clearly knew I had to do something and I failed to do it. CEOs need to take responsibility. I screwed up.”

Schmidt's excuse for why Google didn't focus on social networking earlier was that he was “busy”. He indicated that he regretted this, but said that the industry could still benefit from a contendor to Facebook's dominance.

He revealed that Google was actually working on one social project that used facial recognition and mobile tracking, but that it decided to pull the plug when it became concerned over the possibility of it being used by dictators to spy on people. He emphasised that privacy was a big concern for Google and that it hoped to be as transparent as possible about the information it collects.

This is a remarkable turnaround for the company, which has been beset by a number of privacy scandals over recent years, the most notorious of which was when its Street View cars picked up data packages from unprotected wireless networks.

Schmidt also defended Google's lack of success with the music industry, which forced it to launch its Google Music service without the backing of the record labels. This means people cannot buy music through Google like they can with Apple's iTunes.

It's nice of Schmidt to take the blame for some of the things Google failed to do, as he hands over the reigns to its celebrated founders in exchange for more cash than he can count.

Schmidt also revealed that he would be an active participant in Barack Obama's re-election campaign.