Apple vs. Google is Getting Personal


The New York Time has a full length feature up about the state of the Apple vs. Google rivalry and how it's getting personal. We've heard similar several times before, of course, and Apple has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Android manufacturer HTC. But the details here are interesting:

As Google’s plans took shape, Apple and Google executives either met in person or spoke on the phone on multiple occasions about Apple’s concern about Android, executives on both sides say.

Many of those meetings turned confrontational, according to people familiar with the discussions, with Mr. Jobs often accusing Google of stealing iPhone features. Google executives said that Android’s features were based on longstanding ideas already circulating in the industry and that some Android prototypes predated the iPhone.

At one particularly heated meeting in 2008 on Google’s campus, Mr. Jobs angrily told Google executives that if they deployed a version of multitouch — the popular iPhone feature that allows users to control their devices with flicks of their fingers — he would sue. Two people briefed on the meeting described it as “fierce” and “heated.”

It's undeniable that Google bought Android before Apple released the iPhone (though Apple was reportedly working on the iPhone/iPad technology for 2-3 years already by then). It's also undeniable that the early Android prototypes we saw looked more like BlackBerry or Windows Mobile Standard, yet when Google debuted the G1, it was a full screen, capacitive touch device with the same screen resolution as the iPhone. From the Hero to the Droid to the Nexus One, similar form factors have followed while the BlackBerry-esque devices have yet to be seen.

Many other incidents, such as the still-unapproved/rejected Google Voice app for iPhone, Google CEO Eric Schmidt leaving the Apple Board of Directors, and Google buying (and paying a premium for) AdMob after Apple expressed an interest in the company, are all said to result from this souring in relations.

The two remain successful partners for now, and Google keeps saying everything is "stable". The NYT suggests, however, that someone like longstanding Google mentor and Apple board member Bill Campbell, formerly of Intuit, needs to act as a peacemaker to bring the two giants back together. Otherwise, rumors persist of Steve Ballmer and Microsoft's Bing standing poised to take Google's place as Apple's default search engine, map provider, and ally.

It's a long article but well worth a read, especially the parts about how Google founders Sergy Brin and Larry Page, and Steve Jobs used to enjoy a close relationship. Check it out and let us know what you think...

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple vs. Google is Getting Personal


The article paints a picture of it getting personal on Apple's side only, not on Google's. If true, that does not bode well for Apple, because those who let their emotions dictate their business inevitably falter, no matter how cool their tech or big their lead.

Or maybe google just shouldn't steal crap that isn't theirs... Apple doesn't spend years on developing a product for google to go and steal it because they can't develope their own crap...

They need to let their phones do the talking, and really take out google as the defuslt search engine and I'm going to the Google Nexus 1

I agree with leet let their phones do the talking. Look at things this way since July 07 to present their isn't a single major change in the iPhone UI. Still the same old boring black background. With all this competition from android and winmo you'd think apple would step it up a lil bit. Apple is turning into a big cry baby funny how HTC looks like the bully on poor old lil apple. I for one I'm happy that there's competetition at the end of the day we the consumers are the winners.

I agree that competition is good for inspiration of NEW technology... Not going and offering the same stuff with some bells and whistles that suck the performance out of the technology... It's funny how every phone out there is still not up to the iPhones standards... iPhone out runs them all... So customization or performance? Apple will never release a product unless the experience is how you'd expect it to be, in other words, it should work seamlessly, you shouldn't have to learn how to use it... So when google and HTC can come up with their own technology for FAIR competiton... Then they can COMPETE... Because a competition is not a competition when you have dishonest players and people with no integrity...

J sounds like a whining fanboi b**ch. To paraphrase: "Ohhhhh!!! It's so unfair that two people can have similar ideas! There should be only one car manufacturer, one food producer, one PC OS, one house builder! stamp feet, throws dummy out, etc". Rarely has there been a more silly post on any topic, anywhere.
A happy iPhone owner. And non-fantasist.

Ok LM before you go and make a complete ass of yourself... Let's backup your statement... GM didn't steal Ford's proprietary information and technology, and neither did Lexus.... The Automobile was not patented... Each manufacturer has their own technology and way of making an automobile... Apple isn't looking to monopolize the industry, just to improve it... If someone can come up with their own UI and hardware... Then great! Bring on the competition and inovation... But stealing is just low...

If I had to choose between the two, I'd choose apple. I could always use Bing. hahaha I just don't trust google,"don't be evil?"...please..they know too much about everyone... haha or am I just paranoid?

Basic Business. No business worth their salt will let a competitor STEAL tech.
Being in the same category is not stealing, having similar functions is not stealing. Copying the way, and/or tech to get to those functions is. If businesses like Kodak can sue Apple (and like 5 other companies) for unfounded issues then surely when it is obvious that Google had inside info, prior knowledge, and obvious tech copying then I think Apple would be within their rights.
Not to mention it is best for the market because it also forces the competitors to find new and BETTER ways to do things-not COPY.
Then the phones can do the talking--on and even footing.

So when Bing/Microsoft becomes the de facto search and email, and they start collecting data, are you gonna stop using them???
People who argue over that are idiots, someone...somewhere is going to have your information. Get over it. You don't want people to have it...don't get on the internet. End of discussion.
As far as this article, one point stuck out in my mind.
Google acquired Android 2yrs before iPhone was introduced. Also, Schmidt wasn't even on the board til the year before the iPhone was released.
Meaning, Android was thought about before iPhone even hit the scene. So why should Google have to end their project just because Jobs feels butt hurt? Please. This is business, not elementary school where friends hold hands and skip down the yard.

@J - You're either a troll or a fool. If you're a troll, then the jokes on me. If not, mate you got issues.
@Fred - Nicely put.

PS Ideas can't be stolen, but they can be copied. Theft permanently deprives someone of something.

There is nothing truly innovative about the iPhone about the pretty packaging and Jobs knows it. You can't patent an idea, only the specific IMPLEMENTATION of an idea. Apple seems to think you can do either. Have you read their patents? They are all so vague, it's as as if Apple decided to put pit a wide net just in case anyone came up with anything even remotely similar.
To follow Apple's logic they themselves stole the mobile phone idea from Motorola (who then has the right to sue them over it) and the touch screen idea from Palm (who also has the right to sue), the web browser from NCAA Mosaic who can sue, the internet seach engine idea from Alan Emtage, Bill Heelan, and J. Peter Deutsch (who invented Archie the first Internet search engine) or the inventors or web crawler, and both Apple and Microsoft (and everyone else) stole the idea of a Graphical User Interface using icons from Xerox who also has the right to sue.
Apple makes me so sick it's not even funny, even more than Microsoft used to. LONG LIVE ANDROID AND HTC!!!

"Google acquired Android 2yrs before iPhone was introduced. Also, Schmidt wasn’t even on the board til the year before the iPhone was released."
Yes they did buy Android before the iPhone, and their first phone looked like a Blackberry before the iPhone was unveiled. They have no originality, they just follow what's hot.

"Apple makes me so sick it’s not even funny, even more than Microsoft used to. LONG LIVE ANDROID AND HTC!!!"
This is not Android Central, go troll some where else.

Yes, because Apple alone thought of the touch screen phone.
Yes, because the G1 was an exact duplicate with the slide out keyboard, brick like shape, 4 buttons and trackball...I mean, it's like they took the iPhone and photo copied it spec for spec. unoriginal for them to take the idea that Apple created.
Hey, did you know Apple created air too?
Now that sarcasm is out the way...they took what was hot and went with it...your point?
Do you say Apple just took what was hot and went with it also? Seeing as nothing on the iPhone is really an original concept. Apple took existing ideas, implemented them more easily for the average consumer, then marketed like a bat out of only Apple does.
App store on phone...Sidekick had that.
Browser that showed full web pages...Sidekick again.
Full touchscreen...HTC Touch and Prada had that at the same time iPhone debuted (meaning they didn't just "ape" iPhone full touchscreen design and "copy")
Grid of icons...Palm had that way before. far as copying I see a lot of that in an Apple device myself.
My point. Nothing is "original" anymore. Everything has been done. If you want to sit there and believe everything on the iPhone was first did on the iPhone (beyond multitouch on a phone and capacitive) then be my guest. But the thing wasn't. So climb down from that pedestal and get over it.
People will always take what's "hot" and put their twist on it. When I use my Nexus One...or hell, when I used my G1, there was nothing at all that reminded me of using an iPhone. So how they copied the iPhone, I have no idea.
This whole lawsuit is just a sign of how hurt and scared Jobs is. I will keep saying that til I see them throw a lawsuit at Palm. They have literally aped the iPhone more than any phone out there, yet no suit has been thrown. So til I see fair "protection of their patents", I'm going to be inclined that Apple is just scared of true competition and will find any way to knock them down.
I just pray that this cowardly way of competition will backfire on Apple and WHOEVER goes this route.

Yeah I'll concede that the G1 didn't mimic the iPhone as much as the Pre. The G1 was a phone for geeks/nerds and was a complete failure when compared to the level of success the iPhone achieved commercially. In Google's desperation to gain the same level of success of the iPhone they began to mimic the iPhone more and more with each model released, just take a look at he Nexus One and if you can't see the similarities then you must be the new Stevie Wonder. As Renee pointed out in the post above...
"It’s also undeniable that the early Android prototypes we saw looked more like BlackBerry or Windows Mobile Standard, yet when Google debuted the G1, it was a full screen, capacitive touch device with the same screen resolution as the iPhone. From the Hero to the Droid to the Nexus One, similar form factors have followed while the BlackBerry-esque devices have yet to be seen."
also check out
(I wonder what spurned the sudden change?)
Some of you guys really do suffer form amnesia, have you forgotten what smart phones were like before the iPhone? Phones did not use MULTI TOUCH GESTURES, they did not use ANIMATIONS and TRANSITIONS the way the iPhone does, they did not use PROXIMITY SENSORS and ACCELEROMETERS to turn the screen off during a phone call when the phone was held to the users face, trivial as it may seem, they did not use SLIDE TO UNLOCK, these are just some of the things the iPhone introduced. What Apple pulled of with the iPhone shook up the mobile phone industry like nothing before and I can understand why competitors feel the need to try and mimic it. While I understand I it, I certainly don't agree with it.

@dragonfly very well put and very true. These are the reasons there suing. Don't get me wrong about google there seach engine is king to me. But they need to stop picking from the apple tree.

The admob acquisition is still in the air. Looks like the government is going to block it because of anti trust laws.

By that logic, Apple should be pilloried for putting rotation lock on the iPad, since Apple not only prototyped an iPad without one, they publicly unveiled it without one. This feature is far more significant than slide-to-unlock, and Apple copied it directly at the 11th hour from the Kindle and Nook.
Or is only Apple allowed to do such things?

@Biz, Whu?! So you're comparing a complete design philosophy change (From a Blackberry type device to something akin to the iPhone) to the introduction of a switch?! Riiiigggghhhht, ok.

Way to miss the point -- I am only taking your argument to its logical conclusion. If you want a larger example, find any quote from Jobs about the superiority of RISC over CISC chipsets, and how the Intel family of processors is inferior. Recently, Apple changed all software, all hardware, and all of their technical design philosophy, -- in fact, EVERY ASPECT OF THE COMPANY to switch from PPC to Intel. Were they ripping off Intel? Microsoft? Should they have been savaged by fanboys for switching gears after 20 years of a Motorola/IBM superiority party line? Of course not. Market conditions changed, and they adapted.
You seem to have a problem affording Android the same behavior. Apple has switched gears multiple times -- I respect that, and it is how they came back from the brink not once, but twice. So has Google. So has Microsoft. Whether the changes are small or large, all smart companies change their targets when marketplace conditions change. Otherwise, they become dead companies.
Yup, Android in 2005 was aimed at supplanting Treos, Blackberries, and WinMo devices. In 2007 Apple beat Google to the punch, and unseated all of those in marketshare, and, more importantly, mindshare. So, somehow you think that in 2009 Google should have continued to spend money targeted a class of devices that have been increasingly irrelevant for two years?
The very idea is absurd.

I'm sure Biz has said something similar, but according to your thoughts...then Apple should have to remove things on their phone also.
They didn't invent the grid of icons. So that should be removed from the phone.
They didn't invent using a touchscreen on a phone (whether capacitive or resistive) so that should be removed.
Multitasking in any form...removed.
Copy and Paste...removed.
App store...removed.
And so on, and so forth.
I'm not saying Apple didn't revolutionized the market. By all means they did.
But the fact you're trying to say that a BUSINESS taking ideas from a SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION should be looked upon with shame...that's idiocy at it's HIGHEST form.
Please, by all means, point me out a business that has not took an idea from another company and used it in their products. I want you too. Unless it was the first of it's kind, everyone in this present day takes ideas from everyone else. That's how business is ran. You take it and expand upon it.
Android functions far differently than an iPhone. You don't believe me...come borrow my Nexus One and use it for a day. App drawer...iPhone does not have. Slide down notifications, nope. Task switcher (both native and 3rd party)...nada. Ability to sideload apps on an OUT OF THE BOX model, no sir.
Whether that's better or not depends on the person who is using the phone.
But as I said, this still reeks of a scared attempt to stop a company who took their ideas and improved it for consumers who wanted what the iPhone offered but more. Because as I said...Palm is doing more with the iPhone "patent infringement" than any other company. But yet who does Apple decide to go after?
But I will be waiting for you to show me how the iPhone is PURELY Apple's idea and it doesn't encroach upon any other ideas that anyone else had. Because I just being a phone with a smartphone's already aping another company. The company who first bought smartphone OS's to the world. So yeah...

@iDavey, at what point did I say that Apple invented the smart phone? You use a Nexus One? Now I understand why you're so defensive. Anyway, the grid of icons? Apple did that before Palm even existed, The Newton.
Google/HTC have some nice ideas that are their own, the Notification Bar etc, no one can argue with that. But thats not the problem here, the problem here is the lack of originality on display form Google (no one looks to Google for the next big thing). Their M.O is to take ideas from the iPhone add some bells and whistles and call it innovation. This is the reason Apple is piss*d off and suing HTC. They need to create their own footprints in the sand and not follow the trails of others. If you can name a phone that brought to the industry what the iPhone did, then hats off to you.

To everyone that keeps bringing up that one of numerous Android prototypes looked more like a Blackberry than a touchscreen phone... have you ever considered that the iPhone looks an awful lot like the LG Prada and other touchscreen phones that came out before 2007?! That's not originality either.

...and the original iPod largely ripped off the Creative Nomad, with a smaller hard drive and a click wheel instead of a 4 button control.
...and the Lisa as well as the original Mac borrowed heavily from Xerox PARC at a time when the Apple II unit did not like GUIs.
...and Windows 95 borrowed (to put it charitably) from the Mac
...and, for that matter, the grid of icons long predates Newton. Windows 3.x series had a grid icon view, and, if you want to constrain it to the mobile space, I suggest you look at Sharp and Texas Instruments devices, all of which had grid layouts before the Newton was a gleam.
The point is not that Google has not been influenced heavily by the iPhone. Any idiot can see that they have. The point is that no business out there, including Apple, does not leverage the best ideas of their competition. Remember Steve Jobs "we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas" -- that was more than a sound bite, that is Apple's corporate policy, and quite sensibly, too. As long as the influences do cross the lines into illegality, the resulting competition benefits consumers of all devices.

@Biz It's not worth it to argue with a Fanboy. They see things irrationally. I'm not sure why people have this false sense of superiority because they own a product. It's almost as if they are better than you because they own said product. These people are also the same type of people that will argue on behalf of a company without having any real tie, other than owning the product. I forget how the saying goes, but you can't argue with a irrational person, they fail to look at the situation rationally.

Apple is just really butthurt that they're losing their spot as at the top and it's their own fault. I think they lost the top spot when they showed off the iPad. People would rather have a Netbook than have an iPad. Netbooks are cheaper, hold more than 64 gigs of memory and most come with a built in cell radio for 3G connectivity. And they do MORE than the iPad ever will. They know that the iPad is a blunder they just won't admit it, it's just a giant iPod Touch.
They had to switch to Intel processors and become more and more compatible with a lot more Windows based software to survive, proof being that Mac computers run Windows now. They think they're being innovative but they're not. They started using built in batteries, what do you do when the battery no longer holds a charge? You can't go out an buy a new battery, you have to buy a whole new MacBook, iPod, iPhone, iWhatever which will run you in the hundreds to the thousands.
You know what would be really innovative for Apple? To lower their prices! I sold my MacBook to buy a Dell Inspiron, this Dell has the same specs (in fact better specs) as their most powerful 15" MacBook Pro and cost $2000 less than their MacBook Pro.
When you're buying an Apple product, you're buying the name only! When will people see this? Going to the Apple store is a pain, the software is over priced. They sell old games for more than $30, when the same game wouldn nowadays, cost $5. "Newer" games are still way over priced and outdated and were cheaper when they came out on PC. And you have to make an appointment to go to the Genius Bar, otherwise they won't help you, even if people aren't showing up for their appointments, I remember I used to just go in and ask for help and I would get it. And once you make you're appointment, you have to sit there and wait for hours until they will see you, doctors offices don't take that long. And there's times when it's past your appointment time and they're still helping all the people that were in front of you because they can't get their iPod/iPhone to work.
Apple also wants you to use their products and their products only. Want to sync your iTunes to some mp3 player that's not an iPod or iPhone? Too bad. Apple is not flexible, yeah it's easy to use and user friendly as long as everything you're using is their own product.
All those factors are going into why Apple is going under again. So now they're sueing HTC for patent infringment and being jerks to Google because they're not making they money like they once were. People critize Google for their "don't be evil" slogan, well I think Apple is the worse, if Apple had they're way they would be the only computer, music play and phone manufactuer company in the world and only the rich people would be able to afford their products. So the middle and low class people wouldn't be able to afford a computer. Yeah there's people that can't afford computers now, but it would be easier for them to get a Windows computer than a Mac.
I know I've probably gone off on several tangents but what I'm saying is Apple and Steve Jobs are just being babies. Their toys are no longer better than that of the other kids and they know it, and so they're just throwing a temper tantrum because they can't come up with new stuff. And probably all the factors that I've mentioned have something to do with the way that Apple has been acting.
Apple wants to control the world just as much as Google does. Google goes seems to want to do it at a reasonable price rather than Apple and it's outrageous prices.

haha this totally separates the smart iphone owners and the blind apple fanbabies. "oh no, my iphone is being surpassed, we gotta start suing!!!!!"

"what do you do when the battery no longer holds a charge? You can’t go out an buy a new battery, you have to buy a whole new MacBook, iPod, iPhone, iWhatever which will run you in the hundreds to the thousands." @TK
This statement sums you up, you're not even worth talking to. At least the others had some interesting and intelligent arguments.

Ok, just for easy example sake, let's take copy and paste.
Copy and paste is not patented (as far as I know) however the way you go about executing copy and paste is. When apple FINALLY introduced copy and paste on the iPhone, they did it in a way no one else did. Copy and paste was not their idea but how you implement it, in the fashion apple does is.
I don't think Apple is concerned with the fact that companies my borrow their ideas as long as they don't implement those ideas in the same fashion. No doubt Apple has borrowed many ideas from other companies but they always implement the idea in a arguably better fashion.
To me the best argument apple has is multitouch. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I cannot remember any smart phone having multitouch prior to the iPhone. Other companies have come along and completely borrowed this idea from apple, in what appears to be the exact same method.
Ok, just my .02 take care everyone, good discussion.

Nicely put.
I love it when the fanbois get out their handbags and start swinging; they are just as irrational as someone arguing religion. I'm sure an evolutionary psycologist could explain why we have cognitive dissonance in our nature.

@LM Thanks ;) I'm Baptist by the way haha So I don't really agree with your statement on religion. But, that is the beauty of America (assuming your an American) is your free to have your own beliefs! Plus this is a tech site so I'm sure we should leave religion out of it lol.

Google steals J/// Jobs is a great thief big time!! Ask NOKIA ask KODAK? You apple fanboys are soooo funny!

GHOP your wrong! Oh and its so fanboy cute that Apple "borrows" ideas and everyone else steals them! So typical of you and your fanbuddies!

This whole lawsuit is just a sign of how hurt and scared Jobs is. I will keep saying that til I see them throw a lawsuit at Palm. They have literally aped the iPhone more than any phone out there, yet no suit has been thrown.

I’m sure Biz has said something similar, but according to your thoughts…then Apple should have to remove things on their phone also.

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