Now, management shakeups usually don't have a direct, immediate impact on consumers. I'd put them just ahead mergers and acquisitions on the spectrum of boring-yet-important tech news.
But Schmidt's stepping down is big news, and it's going to have a major impact on how Google evolves in the next few years. To get a sense of this, let's consider some of the biggest challenges Google is facing now:
Search: Google's been some over the quality of its search results. Spam abounds, and last December, Google to stop who were feeding on negative reviews to boost their search rankings. Search is Google's core product, so any lack of faith in search results is a big deal, and needs to be addressed in earnest.
Social: Related to Google's search problems is Facebook's . People use Facebook to share links and recommend products -- essentially, the same services Google offers -- and the results are inherently more trustworthy because they come from people you know, rather than computer algorithms. With and , Google has failed to create a legitimate Facebook rival. A third attempt, known in rumors as , is reportedly in the works. Google can't afford to strike out on social.
Software: Google has built a successful smartphone platform in Android, but now it has to make the transition to tablets. Meanwhile, Google must figure out what to do with , its browser-based PC operating system. Android's sudden popularity has made Chrome OS even before the availability of any consumer products. If Chrome OS doesn't take hold when the first laptops ship this year, Google may have to kill it or merge it with Android.