There is no doubt about it. There no longer is any love lost between Apple and Google. When the iPhone 3G was released, the Google Android OS was nothing more than an announcement still months away from release. As Apple’s market continued to grow and in some ways overtake the Blackberry market, so grew Google’s appetite for becoming a player in the mobile market. Look at the chart below. Apple has been at this way longer. In fact, one would think that they would have nothing to worry about but that may not be the case. As of today, Google has over 20,000 apps in its app store and 20 different phones on the market using its operating system. Even if Apple opens up its network to someone other than AT&T, which seems unlikely at this time, can they really compete against a market that is absolutely saturated with Google Android products?
I’ve linked to it before but it’s worth mentioning again. Right after the announcement of the iPad, Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, had a private employee only meeting. In that meeting he reportedly told the crowd his thoughts on Google. He said, “We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.” Sounds to me like Jobs is taking this threat seriously, and he should. Few companies are bigger than Google. Although the size of a company has never stopped Jobs from taking them on. Microsoft comes to mind.
In this case though, he will be directly competing with Google. A company that provides the iPhone with quite a bit of cool functionality. I’m thinking of the built-in Maps application, Google Search, Google Earth, etc. Microsoft never tried to compete with Apple when it came to the hardware side of the business. No, this competition is of a different kind. I think Apple needs to be careful here. At some point, they need Google more than Google needs them.
Maybe the first real battle cry was when Google Voice was rejected from the App Store without a second thought. After the FCC intervened, Apple said it was AT&T who dismissed the app. Then AT&T said they had nothing to do with the app verification process. Then Apple decided that they actually they hadn’t dismissed the app entirely, they were just waiting to try and figure out what to do with it. That deliberation started months ago and still is being held up for whatever reason. Instead of waiting around, Google circumvented the issue by making Google Voice available via the browser. That’s the nice thing about being the largest website in the world. You can do things like that and no one can do anything about it.
Literally just days after the App Store rejection of Google Voice (August 3rd), Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, resigned from the board of Apple. A position he held for 3 years. These companies were tied together so closely that Google’s CEO held a position on Apple’s board! Obviously when it became clear that Google was entering the mobile market, Apple’s Market, it was time for him to go.
Those things all lead up to the day Google announced its own phone on January 5th. Up until then, they had simply created a platform that could be used by phone manufacturers. The day they started selling their own phone, there was no doubt left. Google wanted to kill the iPhone; at least according to Jobs. He says they won’t let them do it but when they are facing down a company that is literally synonymous with the internet, do they really have a chance? Time will tell.