I am not coming to the defense of the late Steve Jobs or Apple. Instead, I feel that I am pointing out the latest dribble to come from the latest Microsoft-like company to grace the tech industry. Recently in a Businessweek interview, Google CEO Larry Page stated that he believed Jobs’ war on Android was “for show”, and not a genuine expression of concern regarding proprietary technology.
Taking a step back and looking at what has happened, Steve Jobs made the statement that he would “destroy” Android, because it is so heavily based on principles originally created for iOS and the iPhone. We’ll set aside the fact that this is a bit of hypocrisy on Jobs’ part, seeing as Jobs lifted the idea of the graphical user interface from Xerox PARC in the 80s when creating the original Macintosh. Do as I say, not as I do.
Page, on the other hand, in the same interview, noted that he had met with Jobs after becoming CEO of Google, and claimed that they had a pleasant meeting and everything is well and dandy. This very well may be the case, but I doubt it.
First off, in a very cold war-esque way, Apple has been waging a proxy war on Google, by filing lawsuits against several Android handset makers, for infringing on proprietary technology. Secondly, Apple is weening itself off of Google’s services. Just now, even after having acquired several mapping companies over the years, Apple is relying less on Google Maps to power their map-based products. For instance, the maps that can be added to a scrapbook in iPhoto for iOS do not use Google maps, but instead, an in-house solution. To me, this seems to be a first step in a Goole Map-less direction. Siri also circumvents the need for Google in some instances. Ask Siri a question and she will likely serve up an answer from Wolfram Alpha.
Apple is even trying to get their iOS developers to dump Google’s Adsense program in favor of iAd, for in-app advertising. Plus, there is evidence that Google makes more money from iPhones, due to mobile advertising, than with their own Android platform which was created more or less for that purpose. It seems that Google needs Apple more than Apple needs Google.
In his defense, Page did get one fact right – Jobs did decree that Android is the enemy in order to rally his troops. He did the same thing in the 80s with IBM, and that created the Macintosh. Good things can come from a bristly attitude towards competing products.
In summary, Page struck me as overly dismissive of the situation his company is in. He is downplaying the late Steve Jobs’ stance on Android in an attempt to negate the intended purpose of those statements. I think Page is looking at it like this: If we’re pleasant with each other, then why are we fighting? To me, this has a simple answer, that Jobs himself said best: “Just because we’re competitors, doesn’t mean we have to be rude.”
UPDATE: Steve Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson has chipped in, and claims that Jobs’ rage regarding Android was real alright.
He did the integrated system again, iPod, iPad, and it worked, “but what happens? Google rips it off”.
Isaacson continued: “It’s almost copied verbatim by Android. And then they license it around promiscuously. And then Android starts surpassing Apple in market share, and this totally infuriated him. It wasn’t a matter of money. He said: ‘You can’t pay me off, I’m here to destroy you’.”
So there’s that.