Google's Eric Schmidt sees Apple as a "tremendous innovator," even if he's not above taking some digs at the iPad. At Google's Big Tent event in India, Schmidt briefly assessed his competitors in a question and answer session. "I'm a BlackBerry user, because I like the keyboard," he said, though he acknowledged that BlackBerry was "slowly in trouble." But while he'd pick a BlackBerry over a Kindle, he says, Amazon is in better shape. "Amazon has well passed any of the expectations of its ability to change distribution and marketing. They're an important Google partner, and I think compete with us as well."

"Apple will continue to be a tremendous technology innovator... regardless of the market share."

His tone towards Apple was more cautious: while it's easy to praise the failing BlackBerry or a partner like Amazon, Apple is Google's biggest competitor in mobile. "Apple will continue to be a tremendous technology innovator and build beautiful products, regardless of the market share of the products, and that's a great strength — they will continue to be the innovator," he said. When asked about the iPad and iPad mini, though, he said he preferred the iPad (the mini being "too small") but asked the host to consider Android instead. "Frankly, if you take a look at the Samsung 10-inch tablet, called the Nexus 10? More apps, more scalable, more secure."

Regardless of whether you prefer iOS or Android, Schmidt's apps comparison isn't a particularly helpful metric. Google counted about 700,000 total apps as of October, with Apple saying it had somewhat more than 700,000. Most Android apps are technically compatible with tablets, and Schmidt is almost certainly correct to say that's a bigger number than Apple's 300,000 native iPad apps. But Google has long struggled with app optimization for tablets, which often end up with scaled-up versions of phone apps.

Schmidt also weighed in on just what we'll be doing on all those apps. He remains optimistic about the future of newspapers, despite difficulties moving to digital, and he sees Twitter's model as "more distinct" than that of Facebook, which he says is in a state of flux. "I don't know enough about what they're transitioning to," he says. "I will tell you that if you have a billion users, you can make money." Google's most recent controversial decision got a few words too. "I do love Google Reader," he said, when pushed about its impending shutdown. So why did the company kill it? "Priorities."