Is Eric Schmidt the next Bill Gates?

So who said letters to the editor are dead?

Over the last couple of days, Financial Times readers have been treated to two deliciously vitriolic letters in response to Eric Schmidt's inane 5/21 FT piece about Africa. Both letters are lucid and convincing. Both letter writers could teach the blogging proletariat a thing or two about throwing nasty insults at the rich and famous.

In today's FT, David Partyka writes that the Google piece was "laughable serf-serving quixotism." Partyka, a Research Associate at Case Western Reserve University, is particularly good on Schmidt's fetish with wirelessness in Africa:

Mr Schmidt suggests that a schoolchild in Africa will be able, for example, to find research papers . . . or see ancient manuscripts" via the internet. However, as Mr Schmidt says, less than 1 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa's households have a landline, thus "mobile telephony will . . . close the knowledge divide between rich and poor".... I ask Mr Schmidt if a family is so poor that they live in a neighbourhood without landlines, will they go out to buy a mobile phone (with its monthly fee) so that junior can become more educated?

While In yesterday's FT, Michael Shtender-Auerbach wrote a letter to the editor about Google's "lack of virtue." Schtender-Auerbach, the Century Foundation's  Press Officer, focuses on Google's glaring Africa and China inconsistencies:

Google's "Do no evil" creed cannot be reconciled with its business dealings in China. While I agree with Mr Schmidt that integrating internet search capability with mobile devices may do wonders to eliminate the digital divide, Google's first mobile venture is slated not for Africa, where Mr Schmidt identifies the greatest need for access, but for China...... Google cannot preach empowerment through access to information while furnishing governments such as China's with the tools of control."

Amen, Mr Schtender-Auerbach. I couldn't have put it better myself.

There have been a number of articles (The Economist, for example) recently about Google becoming the "new" Microsoft -- the coming complex superpower of the Web 2.0 world. A more intriguing comparison between Redmond and Mountain View, however, is imagining today's Eric Schmidt as yesterday's Bill Gates -- universally vilified for his moral hypocrisy.