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.
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?