Recently I’ve seen tech fanboys Jason Calacanis and Michael Arrington raging at Apple for having the nerve to not let Google put Google Voice into the Apple app store. Frankly not only should Apple have every right to do this — but they should be doing this. The reason? Not only is Google their direct competition, but the reality is that they’re the only company in this environment that you could call a true monopoly.
The notion that Apple has some sort of monopoly on the iPhone is bizarre to me: The iPhone is one of many mobile phones out there in the universe. Maybe for this minute they have the largest share of smart phone, but that’s a weak claim when we see other platforms which are very strong in the same space like Blackberry. In fact the cult of Blackberry is just a strong as any fanboy love for the iPhone, and once more it has a much stronger hold in the corporate world. Yet I don’t see anyone arguing that the doors should be kicked open for the Blackberry.
Next the harsh truth is that everyone is still drinking the “Google Can Do No Evil” Kool-Aid. The fact is that Google is a very closed company, in fact I’d venture to say that in some ways they’re more closed than Apple or Microsoft. By the fact that Google owns search means that they own the internet as we know it. But it’s much more than search, they really own cloud computing in a way that makes Apple and Microsoft look like amateurs.
That’s why I’m surprised that Jason Calacanis is siding with Google: With a snap of their fingers they can put Mahalo out of business within seconds. Don’t believe me? Look what happened to Squidoo a while ago when Google knocked them off the map, frankly they’re lucky to still be around. The other thing is if you look at Google Knol they have a product waiting in the wings if Mahalo does too well. Yes on one hand Google Adsense made it possible for Jason to build up Weblogs Inc., but what Google gives it can take away.
But getting back to Apple, frankly Google is much more their direct competition than Microsoft when it comes to the iPhone. And when you start to realize that Apple is working on some sort of tablet device the idea of Google having both Android and Chrome OS means. To look at having Google Voice in the app store is short sided at best — both companies have product coming down the pipe that will take square aim at each other.
Above: A scene from Pirates of the Valley. Dear Steve: Do NOT let this happen again!
You also have to look at where Steve Jobs came from and the lessons that he’s learned so well. If you turn back the clock to the 80s Microsoft was where Google is now, Jobs would be an idiot to let history repeat itself. We forget it now but back then Microsoft first shipped Word for the Macintosh before there even was a Windows: In fact it was based on that direct experience that Bill Gates was able to create Windows and own the field. But before that Microsoft was helping Apple work against IBM. When you see the dance of these huge tech companies over the years you’d have to be crazy to think that any industry alliance could or should last forever.
Now let’s look at the real facts: Can Apple put Google out of business? No way! Can Apple keep Google out of the mobile phone business? No way! Can Google destroy something like MobileMe with Chrome OS? Hell yeah! Could Google become the Microsoft of netbooks with Chrome OS? Hell yeah! Is there any reason to think that in five years time that Google won’t be a major player in the smart phone market? Hell yeah!
I also don’t buy in my heart that “Google Can Do No Evil” any more than one should say the same thing about Apple. Also frankly the notion that mobile phones should be open is a rather new idea which has never been done before. In fact I don’t know of any other mobile phone company that has been as open as Apple at this point in time. Also if you look at other industries like videogame hardware you’d never see open platforms: You have to ask for Microsoft’s permission to write and market a game for the Xbox and the same goes for Nintendo and Sony. And if you look at the Nintendo DSi it’s becoming very much like an iPhone — there’s nothing to stop them from making a great device in that space.
Above: The The Nintendo DSi now features Facebook, you can tell that they’re gunning for the iPhone if you explore their other features.
The job of Steve Jobs needs to be to destroy Google before they pull a Microsoft 2.0 and own the space. Frankly Apple is the underdog in this market, it’s not the other way around. As a consumer I don’t see this as a bad thing either, if Google comes out with a strong product that will force Apple to keep innovating. And a giant monopoly like Google has the ability to wage a war in this space for decades to come. So my thinking is that Apple needs to get a divorce from Google isn’t from the viewpoint of a fanboy but comes from being a shareholder. If Calacanis and Arrington were sitting on Apple’s board I don’t think they’d be giving good advice to Jobs by telling him to play nice.
P.S. My calling Jason Calacanis and Michael Arrington should be taken as a loving compliment (especially given the title of this blog).