If 2008 and 2009 were marked by Google employees leaving for Facebook, 2010 may be the year Google employees leave for Apple. That's OK, so long as Google can continue to poach some high-tech legends.
The rub is this: Google hired Tim Bray, co-inventor of XML and a longtime Sun Microsystems employee, to work on the Android mobile operating system.
Meanwhile, Apple has, according to TechCrunch, poached R.J. Pittman, a jack-of-many-product launches for Google.
Bray, who has blogged often and intelligently about Android, will become a developer advocate for that platform. That Bray is leaving the wreckage of Sun is a no-brainer. Bray noted on his blog:
"Google and I have been a plausible match for a long time. Web-centric, check. Search, check. Open-source, check. The list goes on. We've talked repeatedly over the years, but the conversations all ended at the point when I said "...and I don't want to move to the Bay Area"."
Instead, he's working remotely in Vancouver, where he will evangelize on Android and compete with Apple, whose approach to control the Web by controlling what's running on the Web he despises:
"Apple apparently thinks you can have the benefits of the Internet while at the same time controlling what programs can be run and what parts of the stack can be accessed and what developers can say to each other. I think they're wrong and see this job as a chance to help prove it."
On to Pittman.
The smart thinking is Pittman will work with Apple's Lala team. This shouldn't shock anyone considering Pittman played Ryan Seacrest on Google's Music Search launch, of which Lala was a key partner.
If Apple is indeed working on a broader cloud strategy with Lala at the center, then it makes perfect sense to hire executives from the leading cloud computing company.
Of course, this is straight salt in the wounds of Google, which as I noted yesterday beat Apple to bid on AdMob, making Apple play for the next best thing it could get in Quattro Wireless.
This story has many wrinkles and is constantly ebbing and flowing. Who knows where the next turn will come?