The surprise of how quickly things change is matched only by how much they stay the same. Competition is brutal among technology companies. Look at Microsoft. Cash rich, yes. But beleaguered on every front. Google on one side. Apple on the other.
Apple, Microsoft, and Google form a trinity of enemy combatants. If the adage ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ is valid, is Google Apple’s friend or enemy? I say enemy. That’s why Apple kicked Google out the door.
That Was Then, This Is Now
Apple and Microsoft have been business enemies for decades, traced back to at least when Apple CEO (who fired co-founder Steve Jobs after being hired by Jobs to run Apple) John Sculley licensed the Mac OS look and feel to Microsoft, which took another decade to produce a usable Windows.
Along the way, the search engine business was upended by upstart Google, who now dominates in searches and revenue, eclipsing early leader Yahoo!, and thoroughly trouncing Microsoft’s anemic efforts to become the paranoid purveyor of every field of technology.
Google grew and Apple grew and both had a strange and interesting dynamic with foe-of-everyone™, Microsoft. Google became yet another Microsoft enemy, partly because of Google’s close relationship with Redmonds nemesis, Apple.
Google: The Trojan Horse In Apple’s Courtyard
So friendly did Apple and Google become that Apple moved Google to the top search spot in the popular Safari browser. Google CEO Eric Schmidt took a spot on Apple’s highly touted Board of Directors.
It was a great friendship to help minimize and marginalize Microsoft’s beleaguered behemoth. Trojan horse? Yes. In retrospect, as good as the friendly relations were between the Mac maker and search giant, it’s obvious that Eric Schmidt was a deadly Trojan horse.
As a highly valued member of Apple’s board, Schmidt was likely knowledgeable of Apple’s iPhone plans years in advance of the iPhone’s announcement and launch in 2007.
What did Schmidt do with that inside knowledge? Now we know. Google planned for a future that would pit the search engine company against Microsoft and Apple in a number of markets—browsers (Google Chrome), computers (Google Chrome OS), and cell phones (Google Android).
Google, one of Microsoft’s many enemies, had become Apple’s enemy, too.
Is Google Out The Door Already?
President Obama has The Audacity of Hope. Google has The Audacity of Thievery—and the audacity to venture far from a core competency (over 90-percent of Google’s revenue is advertising) to attack and disrupt the technology playing field.
Is it any wonder that Google’s Schmidt resigned his Apple board seat? Is it any wonder that Apple helped bid up the price of mobile advertising startup AdMob to astronomically ridiculous proportions (Google bought it)? Is it any wonder that Apple bought a competitor to Google Maps?
It’s a high stakes technology war between Apple, Microsoft, and now Google. Microsoft’s market disrupting days are in the past—a past littered with plunder and pillage and high prices, obscene margins and profits, and customers looking for a better way.
Apple prospers and disrupts traditional markets the old fashioned way—by building a better mousetrap. Google, on the other hand, is disrupting both Microsoft’s and Apple’s lucrative commercial markets by building a free mousetrap.
It may not be as good a mousetrap, but it’s hard to beat the price, and free definitely is a market disruption mechanism. Google now competes against Apple with the Chrome browser, the future Chrome OS, and Android, the cell phone OS.
Yes, Apple kicked Google out of the palace yard but the damage has been done. What remains might be good for technology customers—more choice, lower prices. Regardless, Apple should have kicked Eric Schmidt out the door years ago.
What’s your opinion on the obvious feud between Google and Apple?