Eric Schmidt, Google's chief executive, has been newly named to Apple Computer's board of directors--a move that binds the two tech giants closer together and further away from Bill Gates and Microsoft. Most board appointments in the tech world aren't worth mentioning. This one is because it could have massive implications for Internet commerce. First, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google's Schmidt are two of the most high-profile executives in business today. Second, Jobs' Disney ties also run deep, as the Apple chief sits on that board too, moonlighting as the CEO of new Disney unit Pixar. Thus, a Google-Apple alliance could lead to a Google-Apple-Disney alliance in the future. Some analysts interpreted the appointment of Schmidt as a sign that Apple is ready to move into Internet advertising. Apple's official statement regarding the appointment comes from Jobs: "Like Apple, Google is very focused on innovation, and we think Eric's insights and experience will be very valuable in helping to guide Apple in the years ahead." Apple refused to comment beyond Jobs' statement. Just in case anyone doubts the significance of Apple's Google ties, remember that exactly half of Apple's eight-person board has a formal relationship with the Mountain View, Calif. search giant.