updated 05:55 pm EST, Sat March 13, 2010
Jobs allegedly feels betrayed by Android launch
The competition between Apple and Google has reached "incendiary" levels that aren't likely to cool down anytime soon, a detailed story from within the two companies has shown. While signs of the split have become increasingly public, a Bay Area investor claims that the two sides, particularly Apple, are getting "emotional" as it becomes a personal battle between Apple CEO Steve Jobs and his Google equivalent, Eric Schmidt. At Apple, Jobs' infamous attack on Google at a post-iPad town hall has been followed by repeated shots at Android in discussions at lower levels.
"I've never seen anything quite like it in my life," an Apple worker told the New York Times. "I'm in so many meetings where so many potshots are taken. It feels weird."
The existence of Android itself is also now understood to have been a major problem from the outset. Apart from frequent conversations regarding Apple's worries about Android, a 2008 meeting at Google's campus has been described by executives as "fierce" after Jobs purportedly threatened to sue if any Android phone used multi-touch. The decision to add multi-touch to the Nexus One and the Droid in the near future is considered a symbolic decision to break an unwritten rule at the companies that prevented Google from adding the more natural input to its OS.
Google is said to be less agitated as its primary goal has been to foster an open mobile phone industry, although its decision to informally endorse HTC in that company's defense against an Apple lawsuit reflects a policy of refusing to abandon Android at Apple's request. Even before multi-touch, Jobs has allegedly accused Google of stealing design cues from the iPhone.
The acquisition of AdMob earlier in the year was also a deliberate attempt to keep the mobile ad firm out of Apple's hands after the iPhone maker had sent signals it was considering a buyout. As soon as a 45-day moratorium ended for AdMob to consider other offers, Google was supposedly willing to pay not just a 25 percent premium on a $600 million Apple offer (moving up to $750 million) but to sweeten the stock options by letting employees sell their shares earlier. A pair of contacts familiar with the negotiations have said that Jobs suggested AdMob may have broken the 45-day agreement by signing a Google deal just three days after Apple let the moratorium expire.
The seemingly knee-jerk acquisition of Quattro Wireless, which will lead to Apple's own mobile ad platform, is known to have been a direct response to the AdMob deal. However, it may not be entirely necessary as the FTC may block Google from completing a deal to prevent antitrust issues.
While Apple board director Bill Campbell is seen as a possible peace broker, the Times backs rumors of a possible switch to Bing for iPhone searches as one Apple staffer claims to have seen Microsoft online services chief Qi Lu visiting Apple's campus to make such a deal.
An agreement between Apple and Microsoft would be ironic as the iPhone was built partly as an attempt to thwart Windows Mobile; Windows Phone 7 also makes extensive use of multi-touch for browsing maps, photos and the web. However, the choice might come as part of an "enemy of my enemy" decision where Apple would rather partner with Microsoft than use Google's service, even if Google is more popular and readily ports many of its services to the iPhone.