Anyone holding onto any doubt that Google and Apple aren’t at war for the mobile Web can rid themselves of that illusion after Google I/O May 20.
A senior Google executive took several verbal shots at Apple and its CEO Steve Jobs for being a closed, controlling unit that is cancerous in its lack of support for technologies such as Flash.
Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering for Google’s mobile efforts and a company spokesperson proving to have a penchant for making bold statements, opened his keynote about Android 2.2 with a story that cuts to the heart of the differences between Apple’s and Google’s approaches to the mobile Web.
Gundotra met with Google’s Android mobile operating system creator Andy Rubin, who told him that it was critical to create a free, open operating system that would enable innovation of the stack. Rubin also told him that if “Google did not act we faced a Draconian future, a future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice.”
Gundotra then cued a slide of a poster of 1984 with the title, “Not The Future We Want,” a move to turn Apple’s own 1984, anti-IBM commercial against Apple in reference to the iPhone. He told the audience, which applauded, “That’s a future we don’t want.”
Overdramatic? Perhaps. Ham-handed? Sure. Aggressive for Google? Absolutely. And this happened 3 minutes into the show. Over the course of his entire presentation, Gundotra took several more stabs at the company that revolutionized the smartphone business for consumers in the United States.
The differences between the iPhone platform and Android are legion. There is one iPhone, upgraded by generation, with the iPhone 4.0 coming next month. Android boasts 60 different smartphones and tablets from 59 carriers and 21 OEMs in 48 countries.
More than 100,000 Android devices are being activated each day. For sheer universality, it’s hard to top Android, and it’s one of the main reasons the OS is making headway against the iPhone and even RIM’s BlackBerry.
Gundotra also moved to dispatch Jobs’ claim in April that users find Web content through applications, not search.
“On the desktop, search is where it’s at,” Jobs said. “That’s where the money is. But on a mobile device, search hasn’t happened. Search is not where it’s at; people aren’t searching on a mobile device like they do on a desktop. What’s happening is they’re spending all of their time in apps.”
Noting that Google is a “company driven by data, not by opinions,” Gundotra said that the data shows there has been a 5x growth in mobile search since 2008 across Android, iPhone and all phones where Google search is used.
Gundotra’s mini-crusade versus Apple continued in demos of Android 2.2. Introducing the new cloud-to-device messaging API, Gundotra said, “This is not a push notification API designed to compensate for the lack of basic functionality like multitasking in the operating system.”