This week Qi Lu, the president of Microsoft’s online services division, was seen on Apple’s campus. He was reportedly meeting to discuss terms with Apple to make Bing the default search engine on the iPad and possibly even the iPhone. That would be a blow for Google, which has enjoyed a great deal of search traffic from the iPhone. However, it’s just another sign of a growing war between Apple and Google.
In January, Google released the Nexus One and then it did something very gutsy. It stood up to Apple’s claims that it essentially “owned” mobile multi-touch by releasing an update enabling multitouch on Android handsets, including the Nexus One. The results didn’t take long to arrive; in March Apple filed suit against HTC, makers of the Nexus One, claiming that they were “stealing” Apple’s intellectual property.
And just like that the tech community came to a shocking realization — Apple and Google were at war.
The roots of the conflict trace back to Google’s phone project, and Google and Apple’s diametrically opposed philosophies. Google championed the engineer and open products, while Apple championed the artist and tightly regulated, closed products like the iPhone. Nonetheless, the pair enjoyed a deep friendship for a time, thanks to the mutual respect of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt. That friendship led to search revenue deals, and Schmidt even sat on Apple’s board.
However, several incidents raised tensions between the companies of late. First there was the Google’s acquisition of AdMob for $750M USD; Apple had tried to buy it for $600M USD just months earlier. Apple recouped with the acquisition of Quattro Wireless for $300M USD.
And then there was Google’s launch of its Android project back in Nov. 2007. At that point, according to the New York Times, Google and Apple engaged in a series of meetings discussing the upcoming phone. Apple’s Jobs was reportedly enraged. He said that if Google included multi-touch or other key technologies in its handset, his company would not hesitate to sue.
Now it appears he has made good on those threats, and in doing so has launched perhaps the biggest tech conflict of the new millennia.
In an era where Microsoft and Apple are now quietly cooperating, the rift between Google and Microsoft harks back to such classic feuds as Nintendo vs. Sega, Apple vs. Microsoft (in the 1980s), or Intel vs. AMD.
And it’s became personal. Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Jobs reportedly aren’t so friendly anymore. Jobs has gone as far as to hint that Google is evil. If there’s one thing that’s apparent it’s that this conflict is just starting to heat up; don’t be surprise if it affects other Android handset makers like Motorola.
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