Google CEO: We don't have a plan to beat Apple

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a recent interview that they're not in competition with Apple, even while taking a little shot at the company on whose board of directors he sat during the iPhone's development.

We don't have a plan to beat Apple, that's not how we operate," Schmidt says. "We're trying to do something different than Apple and the good news is that Apple is making that very easy."

"The difference between the Apple model and the Google model is easy to understand - they're completely different. The Google model is completely open. You can basically take the software - it's free - you can modify whatever you want, you can add any kind of app, you can build any kind of business model on top of it and you can add any kind of hardware. The Apple model is the inverse."

Which is poppycock, really.

I'm as invested in Google's services as I am Apple's products, but come on. Completely open? Like any company, Google is open in what doesn't make them money and proprietary as heck in what does. Android is open (under the Apache license, not GPL -- which should give the philosophical FOSSies pause) but Google certainly hasn't opened their search or AdWords platforms. Likewise Apple open sources WebKit (which Google uses for their browser) and OpenCL and Grand Central and FaceTime, but keeps their crown jewels equally closed. So enough already with the open stuff. You give me free services so you can mine my data, I sell my soul to you to use them. Deal. Just don't insult my intelligence while doing it.

Much like the silly Google I/O comments, Google needs to compete on technology, not fake ideology. Android 2.2 sounds smoking hot and Android 3.0 might finally look as good as it works. Compete on that.

(Which, of course, is Google's plan. It's the plan they claim they don't have -- the one that had them go from a BlackBerry-esque prototype to an iPhone-like model almost immediately after Macworld 2007.)

They are opposites when it comes to go-to-market strategy, however. Apple is doing the (almost) bottom-to-top solution, lacking only their own carrier. Makes for great, integrated, singular vision. Google is partnering on hardware and implementation. Makes for excellent, diverse, flexible options.

We're lucky to have both. We'd be luckier if Google just said so straight out.

[ via Android Central]

UPDATE: Why is Android being Apache license important? Because it's a corporate-centric license. A carrier could take Android and, under Apache, release a completely locked down phone if they want. It makes Android only as open as the company implementing it. That highlights another key difference between Apple's iOS and Google's Android -- Apple is targeting the customer. Google is targeting the carrier/manufacturer. Apple has given carriers as little say in the iPhone as possible. Google's license gives the carrier complete say if they so choose. For the average consumer, that's what makes the philosophical argument about "openness" realistically meaningless.

Also, any app is difficult given Google recently remote-killed 2 apps off users phones (something Apple has yet to do). Sure, you could side-load apps, except the Apache license allows AT&T to close that aspect of openness, doesn't it?

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

Google CEO: We don't have a plan to beat Apple


I don't see any reason for google to say what your asking. They were talking about android and iPhone. I wish google didn't make renee as mad as apple makes android fans. Your supposed to set the example! Can't complain about trolls of your going to be one. ;)

Schmidt is right, ANDROID is open, that's all. You can make anything you want with it.
Google Apps like Gmail, Maps or other aren't open, but this is not part of Android

Well said Rene. It's Super easy for a competitor as Google to single out Apple as being restrictive and closed party while Google Claims to be as open as a 7eleven.
Meanwhile, people Should re read This article to really understand what's going on n.

Evo owners are waiting for Sprint and HTC for their next update. Apple owners are waiting for an update to 4.0. Root or jailbreak. We're depending on the geeks to work that out.
One is open? One isn't? Who cares?

I wish people would stop using the WebKit argument as proof that Apple is "open". They HAD to release WebKit as open source or they would have been in violation of the license that KHTML was under at the time Apple forked it to do WebKit. Apple open sourced WebKit because they had a legal obligation to, or they would have faced lawsuits.
Google has open sourced it's mobile OS, web browser, upcoming OS, it's mysql patches, it's NDK for Android, a programming language (Go), and the list goes on. Apple open sourced it's GrandCentral dispatcher for multi-core processors and WebKit. FaceTime is built on open standards, but is not open sourced. Safari browser, not open sourced. OSX, nope, not open sourced (though one could argue that FreeBSD is close). iPhone OS, again not open sourced.
Google might keep AdWords and Search proprietary, but to argue that they're not more open than Apple is a ridiculous statement and gets more so each time someone says it.
Also, the Apache license is an approved open source license so I'm not sure what argument you're trying to make with that.
If you want to argue which company is more open, I'd argue that Google has open sourced more code overall than Apple would let most non-employees see.

"I don’t see any reason for google to say what your asking. They were talking about android and iPhone. I wish google didn’t make renee as mad as apple makes android fans. Your supposed to set the example! Can’t complain about trolls of your going to be one."

I have a problem with Rene's argument that Google shouldn't be claiming Android is more open while their search and ads business is closed. Yes, Google's revenue stream is largely derived from a closed ads and search business. But let's be very clear: The bulk of Apple's revenue comes from selling hardware, not from their curated App Store. Do you really believe that Google has to make their search and ads business an open one in order for them to be drawing comparisons regarding the closed/openness of the mobile app development sphere? Personally, I agree with the essence of Mr Schmidt's statements as they pertain to the fundamental difference in approaches to the mobile industry between the two companies (Android is much more technically flexible; Apple provides the iTunes/App Store walled garden). But that's it. If you want to talk search and ads, that should be saved for a completely different discussion.

I knew this was an article by Rene RItchie before I even got to the second half. Rene is TRULY a Fanboy as in he never realizes what is true and what is not.
Google's platform is far more open than Apple. Don't even begin to argue that. Take for example the lack of google voice directly on iPhone, or perhaps that Swype cannot implement it's keyboard on iPhone because Apple doesn't want it taking over their own. Or perhaps that iOS is not FREELY distributed among software developers for everyone to use, unlike Google's platform.
I think iOS is fantastic, and has a much better UI than Android, and I am ready to admit the faults of Android. The only thing is: are YOU ready to admit the faults of iOS? Doesn't really look like it.
One company does it one way, the other company does it another. Period. What you need to understand is that Google's Android is far more open of a platform than Apple's iOS. There is absolutely NO ARGUMENT about it.
Whichever platform is better is up to an individual preference.

If Schmidt had said Google is more open than Apple, then that's different. He said completely open which they absolutely aren't.
Apache vs. GPL is important. Apache is far more corporate-friendly. For example, some carrier can take Android and make an even more locked down implementation than the iPhone. AT&T can prevent side-loading, etc. It renders the philosophical and ideological arguments moot from an end-user perspective. Google wants companies to adopt Android, so it's Apache. If they wanted it to be and forever remain open for end users, they'd have used a different FOSS license.
Google is a business, a very smart business, and it's great to have the competition.

"You can basically take the software – it’s free – you can modify whatever you want, you can add any kind of app, you can build any kind of business model on top of it and you can add any kind of hardware."
How is any of that "poppycock"? You sure can't do that with the iOS. What an awful article by Rene.

Apple makes money by selling hardware. Google makes money by selling advertising. Each approach warrants certain strategies and tactics. Attributing good and evil characteristics to either is plain stupid. If you continue to argue as such, all you are doing is living inside each companies' propaganda.
I'll say Apple is honest about its intentions. They make attractive "premium" products such that people want to buy them. They believe these products should have certain qualities and tries to do them to the best to their ability.
Google's "open" and "do no evil" mottos aren't market strategies. It's their propaganda. That's fine, as long as you recognize it for what it is, propaganda. They make money by giving away services to sell advertising. Android is such a service. If you buy into that eyes wide open, that's fine. That's great. But nonetheless, "open" and "do no evil" is propaganda. They are preying on our innate senses of altruism and such when they do that. You are implicitly making a contract with Google such that they can take your information and sell you advertising when you use their services. That's a business dealing. They are not giving you something for free.
In the end Android will be more popular as "free" is the ultimate market strategy, but if Apple is successful, they'll get the top 10%. In the end, both Apple and Google may make the same amount of money out of it.

if you don't get that one is a an company competing for ad revenue and another is a consumer hardware and software company you're just burying you're head in the sand.
and it's clear that the statement is referring to their approach to the mobile space.
Adsense and similar products are a google product. It's their main revenue stream. There is no way any company is ever going to let you modify that any more then Amazon is going to allow sellers to rewrite the code of it's checkout software. To think different is utterly naive.
And tech nerds need to get over this whining about open or closed. it's a business. if you want something for free take your own money, go a hundred million in debt and then give it away to every other business for free.
it's ok to like apple products. i do. but some of the comments are completely devoid of a mature understanding of how these businesses generate revenue, where the markets overlap, what markets they compete and what their goals are. The man is talking about a business model. He's not talking about where phone geeks can hack a phone. You guys gotta grow up. Hate on that.

@Rene Ritchie
Like I said the Apache license is an approved OSS license. HOwever you do make a point in why it's important. BUT, I think that the decision was very smart on Google's part in getting adoption of the OS to come about as quickly as it did.
A lot of companies don't like the GPL because of how it requires any software connected to it to be released as open source. So if they had done GPL, Android wouldn't have grown at the rate it did. Now granted, they could have gone with a BSD style license, but I'm sure there were reason to not go with that for the Android OS (they did however use BSD license for releasing WebM video)

"A carrier could take Android and, under Apache, release a completely locked down phone if they want."
yeah that's google's model. you guys are so amazingly naive to the business it's ridiculous. That's exactly what google is talking about. they are licensing the software for others to use Apple does not. that's the difference in the mobile business model. even your update betrays your point.
stop whining about "openness." the google ceo is 100% accurate. he's clearly talking about the model of how they move their mobile O.S. You can take the software and make what you want with it. What Rene is whining about is that some other person can't take that software and do what they want. It's never ever gonna be like that. Once someone takes android and substantially adds to it they have a completely new, copyrightable product that they can control. And they can lock it down all they want. if you don't like it make your own android version and let anyone do whatever they want.

Very well written and to the point article. You guys are trying to twist this into something it is not. Rene never said that Apple was more open or even as open as Google. He never even hinted at it. He was spot on with his comments. Maybe you all should think like this: Apple isn't nearly as closed as you want it to be and Google isn't completely as open as you think.
Google is open in the mobile market as an ends to a means. Not because they are kind of heart. They want your data to enhance search and advertising. And that is absolutely fine, but don't act like they are saints because of it. Maybe we should check with the residence of China to see how they feel about that now. So I would say it is disengenous of Schmidt to pretend like we are all competing for the same thing here.
You can't insert Goolge Apps into a custom rom. And there isn't much difference between rooting a phone and jailbreaking (I know let me have it). But really there is not. If you all want to have disdain for someone turn it to the carriers. They are the truly evil ones. As Rene points out, if Google wasn't using an Apache license you could buy the HTC Aria from AT&T and do whatevery you want. But right now you can't. And wait until your EVO and Incredible get FROYO and there is no free tehtering. I'm sure you will all be shocked!

There we go again. Google hasn't opened their search source code.
RENE: What the hell has that got to do with Android or iOS?
I have the entire Android source code on my desktop machine. Its OPEN. The fact that Google didn't give me the keys to Schmidt's mansion is totally beside the point.
This is at least the 4th time I've heard you make this totally stupid argument. You CLEARLY haven't a clue about opensource, the Apache license, or FOSS in general. How can you put for this argument with a straight face?
Nothing in the FOSS mindset requires you to give away your proprietary bits, your house keys, or your wife. Stop this line of reasoning. You are making a total fool of yourself.

@Michael - Exactly, Google was concerned about OS adoption, not end user freedom. That's an important distinction and one that's often glossed over when "open" becomes a buzz word. Apple did the same with FaceTime and many of their other technologies. It's business and convincing users it's for their benefit is great marketing but not realistic.

@icebike - if what you said were true, there's be no patent-free, no GPL, and no Stallman. There are divisions within FOSS and some consider them incredibly important divisions.
Schmidt said Google was completely open. That's not the case. Google is differentiating themselves based on a false statement and false perception. That's not good for Google or consumers.
I have friends who hack the Linux kernel to do what they want. I can't do that. You having the complete Froyo source code doesn't help me if I have a locked down AT&T Android device.
Also, please stop with the personal attacks. We can disagree and still be civil, right?

@Michael Koby:
Only some portions of Android are released under Apache. The bulk of the Andorid OS is Linux, and as such it is still under the GPL (v2). Nothing Google can do to change that. The UI and some basic apps are Apache, (which is a pretty damned good license), but there is a lot of GPL in there and always will be.
Further, this does not "scare" companies any more. Not when a company the size of Google offers it to them. Not since SCO lost everything.

Schmidt said ANDROID was complete open.

The Google model is completely open. You can basically take the software – it’s free – you can modify whatever you want, you can add any kind of app, you can build any kind of business model on top of it and you can add any kind of hardware.

He's talking about Andorid and iOS4. Not the entire company's method of earning income.
I find it increasingly difficult to remain civil when you consistently twist the truth, misquote, and hide behind editorial privileged.

What Schmidt said: "We don’t have a plan to beat Apple, that’s not how we operate."
What Schmidt meant: "We do have a plan to copy Apple, that’s how we operate."

@Icebike: I disagree with you (obviously) yet I respect and welcome your opinion. I contend the degree to which Google and Android are muddied make it realistically impossible to separate the two.
Debate is important. I'm happy your views are on here.

@Shrike - "Apple makes money by selling hardware. Google makes money by selling advertising."
Only for the next 10 years or so. Hardware costs are dropping every year, and it will become harder for Apple to maintain their current margin on hardware alone. iAds on iOS devices (including, most likely, HDTV quality iAds on future iOS-based Apple TV) are critical to Apple's future.
@Shrike - "In the end Android will be more popular as “free” is the ultimate market strategy, but if Apple is successful, they’ll get the top 10%."
Originally, Google's "free" model was designed to kill Microsoft's "pay" model. Microsoft has no way to compete against "free." But Apple does. Apple provides consumers with the best user experience. And Apple has taste. Consumers will gladly line up for hours to pay for that unique elegant experience that only Apple can provide.
On the other hand, just like Microsoft, Google has no taste. Android software and hardware is clunky and pushed out in a hurry every few months. Google beat Microsoft because Microsoft was incompetent and couldn't react to competitors. Apple is focused, agile, and knows exactly what to do and when. It's Google that is forced to react to Apple now.

Not to mention, whole hordes of people argue that Apache and BSD licenses are in fact MORE free and open than the GPL, because you do not have the restriction whereby you have to give back.
It really does get tiresome hearing this same twisted argument that misses the points while twisting the facts.
And, while you crow about Apple opening WebKit, you consistently neglect that a) Apple took WebKit and forked it from an earlier project, which is conspicuously neglects to credit, and b) WebKit is LGPL, not GPL, which is similarly "not completely open" by your definition.
But hey, let's continue only to spout dribble that makes Apple look good or somebody else look bad.

@jimbo: I agree with that. It's why I think the price of a truly free license is that some companies can lock it down. The cost of choice is living with choices you don't like.
I disagree that it makes Apple look good.

Great Article! I would also add that Google outright copied the iPhone design after Macworld 2007. I would have more respect for Google if they would have come out if an original design for Andriod like Microsoft is doing with WinMo 7. I have more respect for Microsoft these days than I have for Google! How bizarre!

@SolidRock - "Only for the next 10 years or so. Hardware costs are dropping every year, and it will become harder for Apple to maintain their current margin on hardware alone. "
This has been a predicted outcome for Apple for awhile, since the 1990s. Remember, Dell was the king of supply chain management and commoditization. Apple survived the PC commoditization cycle and now basically owns the top 10% in revenue/profit for high end PC devices.
People pay for quality. Basically all markets have a top 10% that pays a premium for a good product. The trick is developing quality products and brands. So, I hope they have a good successor to Jobs after he retires.
If iAds is only for iOS apps, that's really a defensive move for now. If it becomes successful, it'll be interesting to see it branch out, but I don't think Apple's heart is in it. That's not what they love to do. It looks to me that all they want to do is prevent Google from leveraging the iOS market like what happened to MS.
Microsoft's biggest problem is that the DOJ and the EU basically neutered them, and they became tentative. If IE9 is a great browser, it will automatically set Google back. At some point in time, if Google's "free services for advertising" strategy works, the DOJ will have to scale them back too.

@Rene: Their own carrier is actually an idea that I think could be incredible beyond belief. In a frank OS conversation, all rational people have to conced that you will gain and lose things by giving or getting control. Apple's somewhat structured user experience provides for consistency and widespread use (see:apps) and works for a great number of people. Despite whatever potential control issues people might experience with with "Apple Wireless", I can only imagine that the end user experience would be night and day over att's lackluster showing.

OMG Renee ...
He's obviously talking about Android being Open .. not each and every single Google service... he's talking about adding app ..and tweaking stuff .. what the hell does that have to do with Google search ...
Come on stop acting dumb and maybe you'll realize they're not insulting your intelligence

I guess I was never that impressed with Google in the first place. I like MS better than Google too, and don't find it that bizarre. Then again, I've recognized the propaganda for a long time. It's strange that MS has a hard time fighting back though.

There is an argument to be made that Android isn't as open as it could be. Unfortunately, this essay isn't that argument.

  1. The GPL isn't more open than the Apache license, it's more restrictive. The idea that Google should use the GPL in order to be more open is (at best) very odd.
  2. Google's search algorithm has nothing to do with Android.
  3. Likewise for AdWords. I'm not even sure what "Google should open AdWords" actually means.

But even if you had made the argument that Android should be more open (which, again, is an argument that one could make, if one did a bit of research), what Google said would still be true. Compared to the iPhone, Android is totally open, and WebKit doesn't change that one bit. If you want to build a version of Android that does not connect to Google at all, you can. Go ahead and try doing that with iOS.

Man, you guys are going overboard on what os more open than te other. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.
What matters is Google is putting significant resources into Android - I bet it is on the order of 100 to 200 million a year, perhaps more - they are offering partners ad revenue sharing, supposedly, and is offering a counter to Apple.
It really doesn't matter what license it has. It really doesn't. Google simply wants eyeballs on their ads. They choose the best path to get them there. Just think Minority Report advertising. ;)
If I was a FOSS dude, I'd be running away screaming from this deal.

What is the big deal? And Rene you shouldnt defend Apple based on the "lies" Google is telling. Apple has more B.S. PR spin than any company.

So what. Who cares. (said in a joy behar voice). Pick which one you wanna use and be done with it. I pick iOS, having used Android, I am not a fan. My Moto Droid is a dead brick.

"The GPL isn’t more open than the Apache license, it’s more restrictive. The idea that Google should use the GPL in order to be more open is (at best) very odd."
Good point, exactly what i was thinking. And Google's reference is all about Android. In search, they don't compete with Apple, so the context is clear. I do work on both Android and iOS; and Android is more open than iOS.

@estebancam, You knew it was Rene Ritchie before you finished the second half of the article because his name is at the TOP of the page.
@everyone else, The mutually beneficial relationship between Google's proprietary search and its open Android platform is pretty obvious...

People keep commenting that this is a "great article." It is not an article. It is, at best, an opinion piece. As such, the writer is free to express whatever comes to his mind and needs not concern himself with a bunch of facts or insight into the world of android. If that's how the man sees the issue, so be it. Go to journalists if you want at least the facade of objectivity. But don't come to an iphone fan blog and expect balanced views on anything related to the iphone.

Is it true that Android may have viruses in a few apps?
And In my own opinion, I think Android is really overrated, and just a sluggish operating system. It is good, don't get me wrong, there's just a few parts where it really lags and needs to become fixed. At some point, I've been noticing that Google sometimes focuses much more on the hardware than the software, at times. (Even though Android doesn't make hardware, But their partners do.) And it just sets them behind a step in satisfaction experience at some point. Apple's iOS is by far one of the smoothest operating systems I've ever experienced. Not only is the operating system smooth, but Apple offers its own hardware, along with other application/softwares that they've managed to create to fit the experience 3 steps further on their mobile devices (iTunes, MobileMe, iMovie) and it just makes the user experience flawless and less of a confusion and it focuses at one brand itself. Sometimes I worry that Google/Android are on their way on the same path that the PC went. One operating system+many hardwares & softwares=Many problems in life.

I'd just like to say I really appreciate it that no one called me an Android fanboy, especially after I said Froyo was smoking hot, said I think 3.0 would look as great as 2.2 performs, and that Google's model makes for excellent, diverse, flexible options.
Your restraint, as always, is the marvel of the blogsphere :D

What Google should do is prohibit handset makers and carriers from changing Android builds in any manner. Only then would Android be truly open to the buying public. As things currently stand what Schmidt said is at best misleading. I'm switching to an Android phone. Windows Mobile and Symbian phones are often more open then Android phones.

@Edie says:
"Is it true that Android may have viruses in a few apps?"
Google can't do that. And they can't do this because Android IS open

"The mutually beneficial relationship between
Google’s proprietary search and its open Android
platform is pretty obvious…"

That doesn't make Android any less open. That would be akin to saying "no phone can ever be open, because they all use the cell network, which isn't open." Well, they do, but the phone itself can still be open, even if it can be used to access something that is closed. Otherwise, you're using a definition of the word "open" that pretty much nobody else shares.

I don't claim to know all the terms being tossed around here, but I see no reason for Rene to claim to be insulted by Google's claim - even if it is, in fact, marketing b.s. It's not like Apple doesn't do the same thing.
From what I see, Google, in general IS more "open" than Apple. Whether a company has the right, to use those open resources in such a way that closes them up water-tight, does not negate the point.

Rene, Icebike may be coming st you pretty hard, but you have still yet to refute what he and others are saying. You are either willfully misrepresenting or misinterpreting what Eric said.

"A carrier could take Android and, under Apache, release a completely locked down phone if they want."
You couldn't do that with GPL also? I see this as a nice perk of open source.
If you're a developer, and you're investing your time and talent to innovate on top of an existing platform, you are providing your own proprietary enhancements. That's your intellectual property.
It SHOULD be up to the developer's discretion on whether they want to distribute that IP to the general public or not... because it is THEIR IP!
Otherwise, why would anyone want to develop for Android if Google forced you to open-source whatever you built on top of it? You'd lose your competitive advantage the moment your work was released.

Rene, as others have pointed out, I don't get your point. The matter at hand wasn't what the consumer thought, wasn't what Google apps allowed. It was simply about Android. I, as an average person, can take Android and do as I please without no cost or legal repercussions. If I was to do that with any of Apple's software you mentioned, I'd be in trouble.
Eric was right in his words. You just seem a little bit ranting like this morning. You always use Webkit as an example, but Apple does not own Webkit nor did they create it, they contribute and allow anyone to use their contributions. That's a big difference. So yes, Android is open. Deal with that. Eric worded his statement precisely to make it a factual piece.

Thank you! For adding some common sense comments about their " openness " at Google. It's about the money- plain and simple. They say whatever they need to say or think people want to hear to buy their product over another.