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Google also used Android/iOS battle “for show”

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Google CEO Larry Page is either experiencing amnesia or consciously rewriting the history of Apple(s AAPL) and Google(s GOOG) in the battle for mobile developers and consumers.

In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek Wednesday, Page says that with Apple the “Android differences were actually for show” and that Steve Jobs and company created the feud between the two companies for their own benefit. Page said:

I think that served their interests. For a lot of companies, it’s useful for them to feel like they have an obvious competitor and to rally around that. I personally believe that it’s better to shoot higher. You don’t want to be looking at your competitors. You want to be looking at what’s possible and how to make the world better.

History shows that Google is not at all above exploiting the perceived battle between Apple and itself over iOS and Android for its own gain. The most obvious example is VP of Engineering Vic Gundotra’s speech at Google I/O in May 2010. At the time, Android was not yet the hit it is today, and Apple’s iPhone, iPad and mobile OS were runaway successes. Here’s what Gundotra said to the gathering of developers that day about why Google made Android:

If we did not act, we faced a draconian future. Where one man, one company, one carrier was the future.

That was Google using the idea of a philosophical battle over the future of mobile technology with Apple and Jobs — and AT&T(s T), which at the time had a monopoly on the iPhone in the U.S. — to motivate developers. When Eric Schmidt was Google’s CEO, he answered numerous questions about Android’s approach by emphasizing the “open” nature of Android as opposed to the “closed” approach favored by Apple: clearly presenting Android as “not Apple.”  This all served Google’s interests pretty well: Android now runs on more than half of smartphones.

Jobs was certainly not above the same tactics. In early 2010, Jobs spoke about Google and Android to Apple employees, reportedly saying:

“We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business,” Mr. Jobs told Apple employees during an all-hands meeting shortly after the public introduction of the iPad in January, according to two employees who were there and heard the presentation. “Make no mistake: Google wants to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.”

So, yes, Page is correct that Apple did use the feud to fire up its own troops and to rally its own developers — but it’s disingenuous to say Apple is the only one that got mileage out of  it.

10 Responses to “Google also used Android/iOS battle “for show””

  1. Gorazd Cretnik

    Oh my god. “We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business,” Now this is funny. Listen to this. Nokia to Apple: We didn’t enter the PC business, you entered the Phone business. So now what.

  2. Scott Bonagofsky

    This is the most useless article I’ve read on GigaOm in as long as I can remember. Feels like a gossip rag except that it’s not even good gossip. I only clicked because the headline made it sound like there might be something interesting about the article. I was wrong.

  3. WaltFrench

    “Apple did use the feud to fire up its own troops and to rally its own developers…”
    Erica, are there actual materials from Apple that show this? I’m not thinking of a sole-sourced quote that could’ve been enhanced for emphasis, but actual public statements from the podium in dev conferences, or materials?

    Almost everything I’ve ever seen from Apple has been about THEIR stuff–very business-like. I’d appreciate something that shows propaganda against Google of the sort that Page seems to be fantasizing.

  4. OMG stop with the jealous fanboyism. You’re talking about a keynote in 2010 vs Apple bashing Google at every turn. And talk about revisionist history. Android wasn’t a success in May 2010?

    It was the only platform that was actually growing. And mind you Page wasn’t the CEO then so his views may not have been the direction the company was taking at the time. Since then Google hasn’t really given a flip about Apple. I personally wish Gundotra would come and deliver another beat down speech but this might explain why it hasn’t happened since.

    • Erica Ogg

      Hi Phil. That chart shows Android at 13 percent in May 2010, behind Microsoft at 13.2 percent, iOS at 24 percent and RIM at 42 percent.

      I didn’t say Android wasn’t a success, I said “Android was not yet the hit it is today” and has come a very long way since then. Which your chart clearly shows.

    • WaltFrench

      “You’re talking about a keynote in 2010 vs Apple bashing Google at every turn.”
      I watch this stuff a lot and I don’t think you’ll find a single actual Apple statement or document. There *was* the Jobs statement to employees that I don’t doubt happened. But it was never intended for the public at large, Apple never confirmed it and the tone or even actual wording is based on news reporters’ interpretations of unofficial sources.

      There are of course numerous lawsuits between Apple and Android implementations. Rather dry filings, plus Apple saying only that they will protect their IP. And of course “Thoughts on Flash,” which pushed Apple’s views, but didn’t mention Android (which couldn’t run Flash at the time, either).

      So I think your post is simply disinformation. Made up facts.

      Unless you want to say Apple is somehow responsible for others’ blogposts and the like, which is itself BS.

      Show us a couple of links, OK?