If politics makes for strange bedfellows, what of high tech competitors Apple, Microsoft, and Google? The basics: Microsoft steals from Apple. Google steals from Apple. All are enemies. If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then which company is Apple’s friend? From Peter Burrows in BusinessWeek:
When companies start to imitate one another, it’s usually either an extreme case of flattery—or war. In the case of Google and Apple, it’s both. Separated by a mere 10 miles in Silicon Valley, the two have been on famously good terms for almost a decade. Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, both 54, spent years in separate battles against Microsoft while Schmidt was at Sun Microsystems and Novell. Over time, they went from spiritual allies to strategic ones. When Apple had an opening on its board in 2006, Jobs tapped Schmidt. “Eric is obviously doing a terrific job as CEO of Google,” Jobs said at the time. Schmidt, meanwhile, called Apple “one of the companies in the world that I most admire.”
Microsoft competes with Google in search and advertising and mobile phones. Apple competes (now) with Google in mobile phones and applications. Yes, friends, Apple is now in the mobile advertising business.
For almost any company, taking on Google in search advertising would be folly. Google dominates traditional search with more than 65% of the market, and its share of search on mobile phones is even more imposing… Yet mobile search hasn’t taken off.
Why not? Why does Apple care? The why not is easy. The small form factor makes adjacent advertising much more of a navigation pain than a Mac or PC browser window. Apple cares because search advertising sucks on mobile devices, and Apple is pissed at Google because of Android and Nexus One. Enter the enemy of my enemy who could be a friend.
Some analysts believe the Apple-Google battle is likely to get much rougher in the months ahead. Ovum’s Yarmis thinks Apple may soon decide to dump Google as the default search engine on its devices, primarily to cut Google off from mobile data that could be used to improve its advertising and Android technology. Jobs might cut a deal with—gasp!—Microsoft to make Bing Apple’s engine of choice, or even launch its own search engine.
No Google on the iPhone? Microsoft working with Apple?
Whatever happens, it’s clear that Apple and Google are headed for more conflict. Android is a threat to an iPhone business that has quickly come to represent more than 30% of Apple’s sales.
I’ll believe it when I see it. What will happen? Apple will go it alone.