January 27th, 2010
03:15 AM GMT
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All eyes will be on Apple on Wednesday. Most will be watching to see just what the company unveils at San Francisco. Others will watch for signs of a growing rivalry between Apple and Google.

At a glance, they don’t make obvious competitors. Apple doesn’t have a search engine and Google doesn’t make computers. But the two companies are slowly encroaching on each others’ turf, from phones to web browsers.

It wasn’t always this way. The two used to be close allies. The proof is in the hands of millions of people around the world: The iPhone. The default search engine on the iPhone is Google. The built-in Maps application runs on Google Maps. And every iPhone has a dedicated application to access Google’s YouTube. Google CEO Eric Schmidt appeared at the iPhone’s unveiling in January 2007 to tout these features and the close ties between the two companies.

(Just before launch, Schmidt was seen in this video proudly showing off the iPhone he received for sitting on Apple’s board of directors.)

By November, the first real signs of competition appeared. Google announced that it was partnering with mobile manufacturers like Motorola and HTC to build Android, an open software platform for mobile phones. It culminated in the launch of the Nexus One: An Android phone from Google itself, sold on Google.com.

It’s not just in phones that Google is challenging Apple. Google’s Chrome web browser passed Apple’s Safari in market share at the end of 2009 according to Net Applications. And while an open-source, lightweight operating system designed for netbooks doesn’t sound like a competitor to Apple’s Mac OS X, Chrome OS was specifically cited as a reason for Schmidt’s resignation from Apple’s board by CEO Steve Jobs.

“Unfortunately, as Google enters more of Apple’s core businesses, with Android and now Chrome OS, Eric’s effectiveness as an Apple Board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest,” said Jobs.

While Google’s moves are fairly public, Apple’s moves against Google are cloaked in the company’s trademark veil of secrecy. Reports across the web say that Apple bought a mapping company called Placebase in 2009. The source? Tweets and the apparent relocation of much of Placebase’s staff to Apple — according to their profiles on LinkedIn. Good luck trying to verify that: Neither Apple nor Placebase has said anything, and Placebase.com was effectively taken offline

Perhaps Apple’s boldest move came earlier this month when it bought Quattro Wireless, which specialises in delivering ads over mobile phones. Advertising is where Google makes its money. And Apple’s acquisition comes two months after Google bought a mobile ad company of its own, AdMob.

Why the sudden interest in mobile ads? Google’s latest acquisition points the finger, ironically, at Apple. On the company blog, AdMob founder Omar Hamoui said that through the iPhone, Apple “showed all of us the way forward and their efforts have led to a landslide of rapid improvements in our space.”

Still, the most surprising sign of the rift came just last week. BusinessWeek reported that Apple was in talks to replace Google as the default search engine of the iPhone... with Microsoft’s Bing.

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soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Tenny

    I think its a positive sign as the industry is concerned. Google has been getting a free ride on proprietary software for a while now and its high time,Apple took notice. I think Apple should either buy off http://www.yahoo.com or start a search engine on its own for iPhone. In that case, we shall have a brilliant 3 way competition in almost all sectors, with companies responsible for hardware and software on multiple platforms like computers, smartphones and web. Customer gains heavily in the end and innovation takes front stage which is really great. But in due time, it might end up being a dual fight between Apple and Google. Let's see.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:06 am |
  2. Mike

    I think if Apple is foolish enough to dump Google for Microsoft, then they will deserve all the pain, loss of clients and eventual loss of revenue to Microsoft that goes with such a stupid decision.
    You dance with the devil and you will get burned.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:16 am |
  3. Kalman

    Tenny,

    This is called an oligopoly. Which is not good.

    In the end if there are really only three competitors, then there is no competition.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  4. ysbee

    The Eve of Apple

    Nobody predicts it's coming:
    What Jobs said as "the most important thing" is not only a new tool. I translate his words as he will create the new "Business Constellation." So, I predict the totally new business horizon — the Apple will merge its media software — with Microsoft. It's the marriage between iTunes and MP3.

    Connecting the dots.
    As Google is increasingly becoming a threat for Apple and Microsoft as a new media empire, Jobs may have decided to shake hands with Gates. Although I can't point out a single particular article to prove this hypothesis, from many hints on the numerous articles (mainly on the business columns), I've just connected these scattered dots.

    This is a strategic decision.
    if Jobs has such idea of more reconciliation with Microsoft, this is the exact time to do so. It should be a strategy of business alliance against Google — which is targeted the monstrous Chinese PC market where MS has been a king — and the Apple will be a queen of the computer kingdom.

    This is a strategic decision.
    if Jobs has such idea of more reconciliation with Microsoft, this is the exact time to do so. It should be a strategy of business alliance against Google — which is targeted the monstrous Chinese PC market where MS has been a king — and the Apple will be a queen of the computer kingdom.

    Behold the "i-whatever."
    On the stage in San Francisco tomorrow, Jobs will appear with Gates — hand in hand — as they have done before for the software conversion.
    On that stage, Jobs may say — "This is it, folks."

    January 27, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  5. Santa Fean

    The new tablet from Apple sounds neato! Can I get mine with a lid and keyboard that folds over it to protect it? Just wondering if they will have a product like that? Just kidding.. I have a laptop....ha-ha.

    January 27, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  6. Alfonso Dizenzo

    Whay APPLE is doing is showing the world it realy could get done

    January 27, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
  7. Sebastian

    Google wants to expand on the market invading Mac and Windows land which will slowly lead to a war on three fronts. The best chance for Apple and Microsoft is to unite their forces and teach Google who is in charge so that they can continue fighting their duel in peace. Actually, the closening between the two giants could start a long relationship bound to deliver a monopoly over their respective sectors. Google is being too bold in its moves, they should consider good old inibition and consolidate what they already have.

    January 27, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  8. Lim Boon Chuan

    Their businesses have grown so large that sooner or later their arena is going to overlap which is happening right now. Apple may migrate to Bing which may prove to be a threat to Google, but not much as Bing isn't really a power in the Search area yet. But who knows, with a boost given by Steve Jobs, anything can happen....

    January 29, 2010 at 2:36 am |
  9. Esme Fisher

    I use Bing and Google whenever i want to find something on the internet. I think that both search engines are very good. "

    April 28, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
  10. sending a press release

    I have to say that for the last few of hours i have been hooked by the amazing articles on this website. Keep up the great work.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:20 am |

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