A few days ago when Google announced what is a precursor to Google Office, many saw it as a big move against the long term nemesis, Microsoft. We read things differently, and don’t really believe that it is going to have much of an impact. However, today’s news of Google CEO Eric Schmidt joining the board of directors of Apple Computer portends potential headaches not just for Microsoft, but for anyone with digital media ambitions.
It is hard to argue with the timing of the appointment, despite corporate PR speak. Microsoft’s ZUNE effort is coming soon, and this could mean a long drawn out, and costly skirmish for King Jobs. Bill’s boys are going to spend their enormous hoard of cash to buy into the digital media – music, movies and whatever – space. No one can outspend Microsoft, but one can outsmart them. An Apple-Google informal alliance is one way of taking on Microsoft and its coterie. As Valleywag puts it, “this has to be a lousy day at Microsoft HQ.”
Even though Google is being overtly aggressive about online video market, it is trying to leverage its advertising network more than download sales. Is it too hard to imagine – watch the video on Google Video, and download it on iTunes store? Both parties win? iTunes being included as part of Google software pack, or part of Google Toolbar? Google driving music-related searchers to iTunes store?
Google must be paying handsomely for those searches emanating out of Safari browser (about 3% of the total market) and a soft alliance could help balance the books. In other words, Google gets paid for referring customers to the iTunes music/video store.
Niall Kennedy points out a friend of friends network at work here.
The group was already interconnected outside of the Apple boardroom. Al Gore is a Google advisor and Google invested in, Current TV, Gore’s television station. Bill Campbell was an early management advisor to Larry Page and Sergey Brin and helped hire Eric Schmidt. Arthur Levinson is on Google’s Board of Directors.
[personal rant] I hope this means Eric and the Google boys get Macs, and start thinking different about applications that so far run exclusively on Windows. [/personal rant]