Google’s Apple Complex on Display at I/O


The claws were out at Google I/O today, where Google (s goog) VP engineering Vic Gundotra gave his best Steve Jobs impression — by which I mean, an on-stage presentation of new launches that featured ample use of passive-aggressive jabs and humor at the expense of competitors, delivered to a rapt and supportive audience.

Google VP engineering Vic Gundotra

Gundotra’s task was to present Android’s new version — 2.2 (aka Froyo) — which is a minor update in the grand scheme of things. But he made masterful use of market sentiment, at a time when the greater technology community is somewhat aghast at Apple’s (s aapl) efforts to cut off Adobe (s adbe) and Flash at the knees. Feature after feature was presented in the context of the competition — Apple’s iPhone and iPad — drawing big laughs and applause from the audience of a few thousand at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

“If you believe in openness, if you believe in choice, if you believe in innovation from everyone, then welcome to Android,” was Gundotra’s rallying cry. He explained that the mobile platform, from the time it was a top-secret product by Andy Rubin, had always been destined for this fight. “If Google does not act we face a draconian future,” Rubin apparently told Gundotra on the latter’s first day on the job.

Where Apple presents Flash as closed and buggy, and offers HTML 5 as an alternative, Google is trying to curry favor by being inclusive of all things web. The new Android will support the latest versions of Adobe’s Flash and Air. Google’s main objective is to advance the web as a platform, on PCs, on mobile and now the TV as well. And by playing nice with Adobe, Google got the beleaguered company to sign on to have Flash support Google’s new open-source video codec WebM, an alternative to Apple’s codec of choice, H.264.

Gundotra posed Google as the benevolent enabler of users and the competitive marketplace:

“It turns out that on the Internet, people use Flash. And part of being open means you are inclusive, rather than exclusive, and you are open to innovation. It’s really fun to work with other folks in the ecosystem to meet the needs of users, much nicer than just saying no.”

Gundotra walked through a new set of mobile ad formats quite similar to Apple’s coming iAd advertising platform and network, which has drawn fire for the tight grip Apple is holding over the creation and deployment of ads. Gundotra pointed out that Google has been in the advertising business for 10 years.

In introducing new Android APIs for communicating and updating the device, Gundotra poked at Apple’s equivalent, alluding that they were “designed for basic lack of functionality like lack of multitasking in the operating system.” Then Gundotra pitched Android’s new tethering and portable hotspot function as a mobile wireless solution for the iPad, receiving a big laugh.

He also demoed JavaScript performance improvements on the new Android, which is a supposed two to three times faster, by using an app to show a speed test vs. the older version of Android and the iPad. Froyo killed the other two, easily lapping the iPad’s performance within a few seconds. “I really wonder if we’ll be able to get that in the App Store,” Gundotra said of the speed test app, jabbing at Apple’s tight grip on the software available on its platform. Then came the punchline: “Oh, it’s a web app; how great is that?”

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

A Brighter Week Ahead for Flash



We can then count on Om Malik and GigaoM writers aka Apple fans to act as Apple PR for Steve Jobs address and take potshots at all others!


with all due respect to Vic, (after having worked at MSFT, Open-ness is definitely not a personal choice, but a professional one) why can’t he be original? why must he compare his fragmented product to an iPod? no original ideas, vic?

(actually an original presentation may not have gotten as many hits as this one. so I guess its a good marketing choice)

Rohit Nallapeta

Steve jobs took jabs at MSFT all his life, pokes them even now… So I would call it the frenemy complex rather than a company complex ;)


You guys are NUTS!

Does Steve Jobs have a patent about ridiculing Opposition? Maybe he will sue Google now for highlighting their features. Actually I like Steve Jobs and his fans too, I just hate his stupid fans, the iTards


Whistling past the graveyard in the dark? Although I think Apple’s war against Flash (ignoring whether it is “buggy” or “battery-draining” as I have no technical knowledge to form an opinion)is ridiculous given the ubiquity of Flash right now, the rest of Google’s rant is offbase. Panny has it right – stay neutral Google. In effect, Google could and should be the glue that interfaces Windows, OS X, Ubuntu and the mobile OS world into a unified structure. In effect, the universal translator that make interoperability a reality for the first time. I fear Google privacy violations as much as anyone else, but their future should be tied to the “backoffice” of the internet, making “cloud computing” (whatever that truly is) an integral part of your home and business network(s). Use competitive advantage with your OS offerings, but don’t evangelize; co-opt all the rest of us into using your services as teh Lingua Franca of the internet.


I agree, google stands to benefit from platform neutrality unlike most of the traditional PC era players. They get revenue from ads, not selling hardware or licensing OS software. So its in their interest to not get into “platform” wars and make their stuff work on everyones handsets/PCs/Macs/TVs/etc… Their best bet is to push completely open and transparent web tech so that their sites/ads can be seen on the widest variety of devices-let the platform vendors duke it out on their own. This is traditionally what they have done.

The second they start “picking a side” (or creating their own) they are opening themselves up to competition in areas that they have little experience in (OS software, consumer products, etc..). They also risk alienating customers (ad views) from opposing platforms. Unlike with Microsoft, which has exerts lock in with their Windows platform, it wouldn’t be that hard for consumers to defect en masse from Google search and services to similar services provided by another firm. Due Google’s “openness” there really is nothing preventing people from jumping ship to hotmail, bing, yahoo mail, other web app providers.

Looking at it from the other direction, there is also nothing that technically compelling keep customers using their services. With the exception of search (which google probably still has somewhat of a lead in), gmail, apps, gchat… all work fine and they are free, but nothing about these products is really that innovative or better than the alternatives out there. In fact, outside of the US MSN chat and hotmail and yahoo mail enjoy much larger user bases.

So Google really does have to continue to be perceived as “not evil” for their business to work. Thats what makes their current rhetoric towards Apple and privacy slip ups concerning.
The second they start “picking a side” (or creating their own) they are opening themselves up to competition in areas that they have little experience in (OS software, consumer products, etc..). They also risk alienating customers (ad views) from opposing platforms. Unlike Microsoft, which has significant lock in with their Windows platform, it wouldn’t be that hard for consumers to defect en masse from Google search and services to similar services provided by another firm. Due Google’s “openness” there really is nothing preventing people from jumping ship to hotmail, bing, yahoo mail, other web app providers.

Looking at it from the other direction, there is also nothing that technically compelling keep customers using their services. gmail, apps, gchat… they work fine, but nothing about these products is really that innovative or better than the alternatives out there. In fact many of their competitors already arguably have better UIs, more features, etc.

They really do have to continue to be perceived as “not evil” for their business to work. Thats what makes their current rhetoric towards Apple and privacy slip ups concerning.


Oh wow.. post copy and paste FAIL. The second half of my post is a repeat. No way to edit meh…

Red Apple

Why can’t Apple just buy Verizon (aka Big Red) and offer the iPhone & iPad for ridiculously low low prices to flood the market with best mobile OS and at the same time undercut their arch enemy (Google).

I wish Steve would grow a pair and take some of his war chest ($30+ billion and growing daily) and make The Google feel some Cupertino Pain !

It’s time to unleash the PainMeister and serve up a serious bag of hurt on these Android wimps.

Dr. Grace Augustine

I wouldn’t wait for Steve to grow a pair anytime soon. His lifetime transplant meds have permanently effected his Man sad. :-(
But he can still deliver a Bag-o-Hurt on his despised enemies with initials like:


John Harlow

You say Apple presents Flash as “closed and buggy”. I think that most Flash users would say that Adode delivers Flash as buggy. Whether you agree with Apple’s decisions or not, most browser woes track back to Flash. It is a buggy product.


Good post, Android was hardly usable until 2.1 release. As a android user I will question whether there is any data to support that flash won’t kill battery of my phone and won’t cause any crashes. Google is committing to flash for purely marketing reason anther than technical reasons.

I got Sprint EVO phone at google IO, it drains the battery really quickly if 4g is turned on. Google should focus on improving there battery problem on Android


Thx that was good information about battery drain.


Gigaom can henceforth call themselves OmAppleOm – seriously this is becoming a site for Appple fan boys and for Google bashing. Its disappointing that while Google is trying to advance the state of the art – Gigaom is highly undercovering Google I/O and selectively nitpicking. Readers are smart and not dumb to overlook these things.

Om Malik


Maybe you need a second opinion:

Seriously, we say it the way we see it. Sometimes what we say doesn’t match up with what you see and sometimes what you see doesn’t mesh with what we see. It is part of disagreeing with each other :-)


Om – Thanks for responding. I am a loyal reader of Gigaom for more than 6 years –Over such a long period I have never felt about any sustained bias. Somehow in covering Google’s mobile initiatives , I feel otherwise. I definitely think there is need for course correction. There are many respectable views over the web, that convey the opposite sense of what am seeing here on the whole – this is only in respect of Google mobile initiatives.
Am sure you may have seen these and much more . Anyway, some of the links are here:

Arkid mitra

I wonder if there will be a similar coverage when Steve Jobs makes similar jabs at Google and Adobe. I always though Gigaom was one of the blogs where we got completely transparent opinions but no more. I am no google fan nor an apple basher but I expect Gigaom to get back to what it dies the best..i.e Give transparent opinions instead of Apple marketing..


Om, why do you think Steve Jobs ridiculing Microsoft is fine, but Google ridiculing Steve Jobs is having a “complex”. Please let us know, I also read your blog every weekend, so you owe me that one.

RJ Pittman is smarter than Tim Bray!

This is why RJ Pittman made a wise move to leave Google and join Apple, as noted recently on Tech Crunch. Tim Bray joining Google to work on Android was much less interesting because Bray was at risk of being dropped by or subsisting in toxic mediocrity at Oracle following the Sun acquisition.

Pittman saw the writing on the wall and he darted just-in-time (high five to RJ! Its implausible that Pittman would want to find himself on stage with former Microsoft drone Vic Gundotra. Gundotra’s / Google’s puff piece is classic “also ran”. Beware of hubris inherited from the cult of Microsoft!


Adobe better be careful dealing with the “Don’t be Evil” company. 2 years ago their CEO was sitting on Apple board learning Apple’s mobile strategy and quietly implementing it for his own company. Now he is trashing Apple publicly. And that Vic Gundotra who probably made tons of $$$$ from the “Evil Empire” stock who was copying Apple’s OS ideas is talking about Openness for the consumer. Did he ever tell that to Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer during his tenure at Microsoft? Google is acting like they care about developers and consumers. All they are doing is what Bill Gates did to Apple in the 80s. Google will probably copy Adobe’s ideas and then backstab them later. And yes, Flash does crash the Macs. And iPhone is much better product the any Android phones out there. Buy one, get one free. Its like driving a Honda instead of a BMW.


it’s a healthy complex, Apple’s the guy to beat in mobile devices, isn’t it? and you could argue Apple has a Google complex too with all the whinning about “we didn’t enter the search market” etc…They’re already rivals, I don’t see the need to play nice.


I’m fond of google but really thing they are going in the wrong direction going up against Apple. Google should try to remain ‘neutral’ and find space between Microsoft and Apple to emerge in. Apple innovated in areas that were previously untouched – portable music, phones and now iPad. Google are forgetting that while trying to compete against iPhone, which is absolutely fine – but not aggressively against Apple they will actually lose brand loyalty from Apple consumers. Not a good plan at all… what about Apple computers using google? Apple could change the search engine default away from google on their millions of devices and that would not be helpful at all.

Len Feldman

The wheels of Google’s argument fall off with Google TV. It’s open, but only if you use Intel’s hardware platform, Google’s operating system, browser, SDK and API, and wait until next Spring to start development of optimized applications and content.

Greg Patterson

Google still has yet to have the continued success of Apple (the personal computing area, yes they do dominate search). They should not stoop to Apple’s level and just tend to its business. Good competitors don’t focus on the competition the focus on winning the game.


It’s funny how when you control information you change it up to your own benefit isn’t it?

Google didn’t buy Android to fight the iPhone because the purchase happened in 2005, BEFORE the release of the iPhone in 2007. They bought it to compete (and copied) with Windows Mobile at first.

ah_ha fan

Google, oh google. When oh when will you just break down the “can’t do county free wi-fi” mantra to bring in the whole great and secret show to a close. If you would, then we could all see y your always flip flopping these days to appeal even more to the trustless consumers. I agree, these type of fights and goings ons between rival companies that weren’t even yet, rivals really. But Apple started it, and now they again will start to innovate while others chase. I really do see all sides benefiting just about as much as their counterparts do….unless Apple just lays us out for the next few years with the greatest inventions ever. for an average consumer to carry. I can’t wait for their new iPhone but I’d really just like to loose the phone altogether if we get a free wifi service from the Google-burglar.

Scott Rose

Yeah, that “draconian future” where everything just works perfectly & simply & elegantly. I think I like that future.

I think that this iPhone vs. Android comparison chart sums it up rather nicely:


That’s nice but what has that to do with Apple? The working simply and elegantly bit I mean.


Of course the iPhone intereface is elegant and “just works” – it’s a copy of the intereface Palm spent over 10 years developing :-)


You mean the company built by ex-Apple employees from the Newton division Palm? Yeahhh. Remember kiddies Apple INVENTED the PDA. (Not evoluionized / Revolutionized, Copied, et al.)


Well, in the US maybe, but a good 5 years after Psion in the UK.
Take an iPhone [or my Touch], take a Palm PDA – you can’t see the similarity? Dream on.


It’s not smart and it makes it sound like they have an Apple inferiority complex. Which they probably do. Are there actually people foolish enough to believe that Google bought Android to make the world free from Apple? Maybe teenage boys. But they actually originally bought Android, yes they bought it, to compete against Windows Mobile. Which is why the first version of the Android interface copied Windows Mobile. Now they copy the iPhone interface although not very well.I have an Android phone btw only because AT&T sucks so much. Most of what Google announced yesterday is vaporware. As usual Apple is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.

Suzy Satsuma

Vaporware… um… you can download the full SDK for what they talked about and start developing immediately on those features for once the 2.2 updates go out to the devices….. it is reality, not vaporware.

Billy Blusema

But incomplete and rough around the edges as with nearly all Google products.


I shudder to think of Steve Job’s retort!

Google is going down the war path, arguably the wrong path.

While chinks are appearing in Google’s armour, and a lack of self confidence, Apple is just cruising!


You do realise that Apple do exactly the same thing at their events don’t you?


So Mark you are trying to say Apple shows an Apple complex at Apple announcements? Very Meta dude. Very Meta.



Trashing the opposition. I shouldn’t really have to explain that.


I generally like the services google provides. But for a company that claims to be “not evil” – they were sure talking a lot of smack. Hopefully they can translate all this angst into focus long enough to deliver a great consumer product experience.

Remember: Desktop linux was once marketed via the virtues of “free”, “choice”, “options”. They could never agree on anything and thus lost focus on the goal of providing an end-user oriented product.


What a pathetic display of delusions of grandeur and like you rightly say “Apple envy”.

This was a Google that did not need to lower itself to levels of drunken sailors. Maybe this was some kind of liberating therapy for Mr. Gundotra for his many yrs at MSFT. Either way they took the mask off and it wasn’t pretty nor elegant.


“Google’s main objective is to advance the web as a platform”

That’s funny… Google has always said that their main objective was “Organize the world’s information”… it’s their BHAG.

I’m a little mystified about what Google’s focus is these days – they’re all over the map… er… yeah, maps too.



Why is no one talking about the fact that Google happily embraced the virtues of HTML5 as the future of the web, when that was first big news…but now they’ve got this partnership with Adobe, and they’re talking up how important it is to include Flash in the web experience? And they’re using this as as evidence of Apple’s inferior philosophy?



Google has done more for HTML 5 than Apple.

Apple’s strategy is Cocoa + lip service to HTML 5.

Google is inclusive in the technologies it supports. It fully supports HTML 5 while also supporting other technologies that are common the web.

Not sure what you are confused about.

Chris K

Google wants Flash only because Google wants everything to be a laggy shtty web service. That way they can sell you ads, easily develop web apps to sell you ads on and make you use Google to search for it all.

If developers start making apps that reside locally on machines (like iPHone apps) then that threatens Google’s world domination plans.

Never mind if the best consumer experience is the best of both worlds. A fast responsive local app combined with cloud data communications.

Nope Google wants it all web. Everything on a browser.

So they can become King.

Not saying Apple is benevolent. But Google sure ain’t either.


You forgot Apple has a hand in the code of the HTML5 specs. Right now Google just bought another comapny to try and pitch a crappy rip-off version without many of the functions of the “Real” HTML5.
Stop drinking the Koold-Aid.

Matt Liotta

Seems like deja vu. Wasn’t Microsoft et al showing wonderful things just before the iPad launch only to be trounced by it? Now we have Google showing wonderful things just before WWDC.

I don’t have any issue with Google or Android. In fact, Android is the only real choice for Verizon customers like me. However, it just seems like if iPhone is the platform to beat you might want to wait until just after the latest refresh.


Apple did the iPhone 4 OS preview a while back, so technically they are after. Also, it’s kind of naive to expect Google to shift their whole developer conference to a different time for this reason.


Apple did unveil iPhone 4.0 but that they haven’t told you everything there is to it. iPhone 4.0 might have other features that Apple is saving for WWDC.


Why is it an “Apple complex” when Google brings freedom of choice to the Consumer?

Using that logic, next month at WWDC when Jobs outlines even more device lock downs, more developer restrictions and fewer Consumer choices, that will be him having a “Google complex”.

Liz Gannes

The actions themselves aren’t a complex. It’s the comparisons and jabs.

Also, I do think Google successfully came off as the good guy here. Plus, it won the Adobe alliance just by comparison to the alternative.


When you wrote: “If Google does not act we face a draconian feature,” did you mean “future”instead of feature?


Any time you’re comparing yourself to the other guy, you’re losing. It was true when Gil Amelio was doing desperate Photoshop bake-offs with 604-based PowerPCs and it’s truer when Android managers can only discuss their product relative to somebody else’s…


“Hi I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC”…

Guess they’re all losers! ;-)

But yeah, generally I agree.

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