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They said it could never last, and sure enough, after a tumultuous three year relationship plagued by anti-trust legislators, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt has parted company with Apple. The growing conflicts in interests between the two technology titans made Schmidt’s position on the Apple look increasingly untenable, and so it has proven with the announcement that he will be stepping down on their board.
It’s not hard to see why so many viewed Schmidt’s alignment with Apple as potentially anti-competitive. With Google already dominating the search market and diversifying elsewhere, Apple have rebuilt a technology empire around the Mac, iPod (including iTunes) and iPhone. With the release of the Android phone operating system, Google found themselves in direct competition with Apple; something which would not have been openly welcomed by Steve Jobs et al.
The hubbub caused by Apple’s refusal to include the Google Voice application on the iPhone Apps, probably represents another nail in the coffin. Whilst finally the FCC’s recent questioning over the two company’s working relationship probably provided both parties with a reasonable opportunity to make their excuses and go their separate ways.
One of the major gainers in all of this may in fact be Microsoft. With Google and Apple being major competitors in most of their fields of operation, their potential information sharing and collaborations could have only harmed their future competitiveness with either.
They’re already firmly embedded in the mobile phone industry with their Windows mobile operating system featured on the popular HTC Touch and Samsung Omnia ranges amongst many others. Google Android will pose a significant threat moving forward, but in such a competitive market they can’t hope to achieve the same blanket domination that they’ve achieved in desktop PC software. Better still, Microsoft have even announced plans to port iPhone apps to Windows Mobile; taking their fight away from Google momentarily and landing one right on the nose of Jobs’ Apple.
Of course the PC and the Mac are in an ongoing tussle for supremacy. Apple rules the Mac, Microsoft owns the PC market. With the Google Chrome OS on the way, Microsoft will be hoping that Windows 7 is big enough to ward off both Google on the PC and the Mac – especially with the Apple Tablet ready to make a huge splash in the very near future.
Finally there’s the all-important search engine. Google are runaway leaders, but with the proposed merger of Yahoo and Microsoft, they’ll be hoping to make significant headway in the coming years.
It’s a complicated series of relationships, trust, mistrust and anti-trust suits. Although no party will be significantly weakened by this departure, you wouldn’t have thought at any rate, the competition between Apple and Google is now sure to intensify. This in turn may allow your Microsoft’s to sneak in and take some market share. By gobbling up iPhone apps, they could well be starting their mobile resurgence already; taking away one of the things that has made the Apple mobile so popular.
The Schmidt-Jobs/Google-Apple relationship has been a constant source of unease throughout the industry. Now with it seemingly dead and buried, competition may truly commence.