Eric Schmidt: CEO shuffle "nothing to do with competitors" or China

Eric Schmidt has denied that his decision to step down as Google CEO was motivated by internal disagreements over the search giant's handling of Chinese censorship, also insisting that the management shake-up – which will see co-founder Larry Page take the CEO role – "has nothing to do with competitors." Instead, the move is intended to clarify Schmidt, Page and Sergey Brin's roles within Google.

Schmidt will still handle a significant amount of responsibility as Executive Chairman, taking on "all the external stuff: customers, partners, deals, M&A, government, press, publicity and marketing. It was misinterpereted by many people who didn't understand what I was doing." Brin will focus on "the order of three big initiatives"; it's unclear if these are the same as the three "strategic initiatives – LTE, mobile money and cheap smartphones – that Schmidt previously confirmed.

As for competitors, Schmidt denied that Google sees Facebook as a rival, suggesting that Microsoft was a more likely threat. No word on rumors that he harbors ambitions to be a talk-show host, however.