Once great partners in the digital age, Apple and Google turned their deals into demons that will haunt the histroy books of the computing era.
The Google Voice iPhone app scandal (and the FCC investigation that followed) only recently shed light on a swelling clash between the two conglomerates.
Google Voice was only the tip of the iceberg, revealing an Apple Vs. Google showdown that has been brewing for some time.
The day the responses to the FCC were released, TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington wrote:
…Apple expressed dismay at the number of core iPhone apps that are powered by Google. Search, maps, YouTube, and other key popular apps are powered by Google. Other than the browser, Apple has little else to call its own other than the core phone, contacts and calendar features. The Google Voice app takes things one step further, by giving users an incentive to abandon their iPhone phone number and use their Google Voice phone number instead…
Apple was afraid, say our sources, that Google was gaining too much power on the iPhone, and that’s why they rejected the application.
Apple seemed to be fine telling Google and others that the real reason they wouldn’t accept the Google Voice app on the iPhone was a fear of being turned into little more than a hardware manufacturer over time as users spent more and more time on Google Voice and less time on the competing native iPhone apps.
Which is all fine and dandy. But that scuffle points to an even greater controversy. The real reason Apple hates Google is simply because the search engine won the cloud game.
A decade ago when technology companies were beginning to realize the benefits of users storing all of their information in the cloud, the race began. The goal? To provide features to consumers online, make a profit, and gather massive forces of users.
Google created GMail (and the accompanying address book), Google Calendar, Picasa and Google Docs, to name a few applications in the cloud.
Apple created .Mac (later MobileMe), including e-mail, an address book, a calendar, online photo storage, and also iWork.com.
Both offerings had perks and limitations, but one key factor separated Apple from Google: price.
Multi-platform users flocked to Google’s cloud applications which were free, while a select number of Mac users preferred paying $99 a year to Apple for similar online tools.
Years later this key difference made a huge impact.
When the majority of Mac users are using Google’s platform, what better option is there than to strike a deal and offer Google integration with Apple applications?
Therefore Google contacts would sync with Apple’s address book, GCal with iCal, GMail with Mail, etc. iMovie videos would even upload to YouTube and Safari’s search would be powered by Google.
Like the ending of a cruel joke, it turns out that the Mac is just as Google-saturated as the iPhone, if not more so.
In retrospect, Apple’s fatal first move was charging for the cloud and limiting its accessibility.
If all Internet users could have freely managed their contacts, calendars, photos, documents and other information online through Apple first, there’s a good chance the company would never be in the FCC peccadillo it’s in today.
Recognizing that Google won the cloud game, Apple added (and even included) Google-powered applications on the iPhone platform.
But then something funny happened: Apple realized it lost. Google Voice was the impetus for epiphany.
Adam ate of the fruit, and realized that he was naked.
Let it be said that Apple has a dependability issue. If the company were in a relationship with you, you’ll likely end up dumped (and soon), because of bad experiences Apple has had with dates in the past.
Both in the first Steve Jobs era, and now, after Jobs’ dramatic comeback, the company has a poor record of relying on others. Time and time again Apple has seen failure from Motorola, AT&T and still other partnerships. As a precaution, Apple wants to do everything it can to stop Google from dragging it down when the search engine eventually hits a rough spot.
After all, Apple won’t depend on other hardware makers to produce machines for its operating systems, and it won’t depend on other companies to make the primary software for its machines.
Simply put, Apple is meant to be the grand solution while other software makers provide the fluff. In Apple’s eyes nothing can be better than iPhoto, iTunes, Final Cut Pro, Safari, and its other apps. That’s why it produces them. The company musn’t be threatened.
Google Voice opened Apple’s eyes to the fact that it might lose control over the very phone it created, by outsourcing the most precious applications to Google.
Down the road, Google could even do more damage. It wouldn’t take much for the search giant to create a universal online music store and (if there was no safeguard in place) create a store/player for the iPhone. Or perhaps, Google could just acquire Pandora.
The cloud game, however, has gone into overtime. Lucky for Apple.
The new race is to move full-featured memory-intense applications like movie-editing, website development and music-creation to the cloud. In essence, iLife online.
The real setback is user Internet speed, but Apple knows that whoever wins in overtime may very well win it all. It’s all about doing it first, doing it free, and doing it for everyone.
Apple’s building one of the world’s largest data centers now for a reason. It’s preparing the cloud so it can beat Google at its own game.
As handheld gadgets, phones, and even the computer itself move to the cloud, Apple realizes that being in control online means keeping control in the future. And Apple has always been about control.