The Growing Rivalry Between Google and Apple

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-08-04 Print this article Print

Yet even the federal government recognizes the growing competition between Google and Apple. The Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Competition Director Richard Feinstein commended Apple and Google for recognizing that sharing directors raises competitive questions as Google and Apple increasingly compete with each other.

That competition, almost nonexistent in August 2006 when Schmidt joined Apple's board, is strikingly clear today even if it is newfound.

Apple launched its iPhone smartphone two years ago and has sold millions of the devices. Google launched its Android mobile operating system nearly two years ago and now has a few phones using it in the market, including the T-Mobile G1 and, beginning Aug. 5, the T-Mobile myTouch 3G in the United States, as well as the HTC Hero in Europe.

That's a pittance compared with the iPhone, but Google expects roughly 20 Android devices on the market by 2010. That breadth of choice will beget real competition for Apple.

Nearly a year ago, Google launched Chrome, the company's flavor of a Web browser that is much more friendly to Web apps. Though fewer than 2 percent of Web users are actively using it, it competes with Apple's Safari browser, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Last month, Google unveiled Chrome Operating System, which will support the Web apps running in Chrome. Intended for netbooks of all kinds, Chrome OS will compete with computers running Apple Mac OS X, as well as Microsoft Windows machines.

Even though Chrome OS isn't ready yet, TBR's Gottheil believes Chrome OS may be a bigger threat to Apple's Mac platform than Android is to the iPhone. "When you consider Chrome OS' potential to offer PC buyers an attractive alternative to Macs, Google's activities could impinge on more than 70 percent of Apple's revenue," Gottheil said.

Finally, there is Google Voice, the Web calling management application Apple kept from the iPhone App Store because it has features that overlap with the iPhone.

Though Voice is not built on Android, it impacts the mobile application market on which the iPhone relies.

Suppose Apple was peeved at Google. Could the company punt Google search for Microsoft's Bing or jettison Google Maps for Yahoo Maps, as Om Malik suggested?

"I think it's an interesting point, but I wouldn't exaggerate the significance of this in terms of Apple's interest in or willingness to use Google's products," Sterling said.

"Apple will continue to use best-of-breed products where Google has them, or with Yahoo but not Microsoft. Also, now that Yahoo's search will basically be Bing with a Yahoo interface, that puts a check on Apple abandoning Google search."

Apple, Sterling said, will absolutely not go for Microsoft products. But what if Apple launches a search engine? That's food for thought.


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