The Anti-Apple: Google Is The New Microsoft

Microsoft is apparently no longer the target for Google. Apple is now the symbol of all that’s wrong with the world.

I was struck at yesterday’s Google I/O Android keynote by how directly and repeatedly Google’s Vic Gundotra slammed erstwhile partner Apple about its philosophy and its devices. Again and again the message was “we’re open, they’re not; we want to help you (developers) they want to dictate terms to you.” Competitive comparisons are fine but the rhetoric and hyperbole went “over the top” a few times in my opinion.

Perhaps it was all simply a response to Steve Jobs’ own, earlier anti-Google rhetoric, including the partly incorrect assertion that “search hasn’t happened on mobile devices.”

The Apple bashing provided a kind of “red meat” fervor to the keynote, I suppose, and got the crowd worked up as though at a political rally. But it was unnecessary to promote Android 2.2 or Google TV, which spoke for themselves.

A moment that reached a level, in my opinion, of almost comedic absurdity was when the Adobe Flash logo hit the screen and the audience let out thunderous applause. And, as TechCrunch points out, Google used the 1984 Apple ad imagery against Apple (which has been done before). Gundotra railed against a “Draconian future, a future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice.”

Really? A Draconian future?

It’s as though the American way of life or freedom itself is threatened by Apple. (Later during the Android press conference Gundotra was more conciliatory in response to a question about the Apple criticism, saying that Apple and Google continue to work together, etc.)

It seems to me, however, that Google should be grateful to Apple, for helping Google build its market share in mobile and for creating the mobile internet market in many ways. Android and its OEM handset makers have clearly emulated if not directly copied Apple in several respects (app store, device design and features).

At I/O there was a display case featuring all the Android devices available today. It was beautiful and impressive, but not one of those devices looked like a BlackBerry. In fact the majority looked like . . . iPhone knock-offs.

In many respects Google has largely now taken Microsoft’s place in the “internet era,” a dominant company that wields enormous power in the marketplace. Long ago Google ceased to be the underdog or the upstart company it was in the early days. The irony is that Google’s Gundotra, himself a former Microsoft employee, was impliedly arguing that Apple was the Microsoft of mobile with its top-down approach and control.

Google suggests that mobile is now a zero-sum game (iPhone vs. Android) with Google as the champion of choice and freedom in the market. However, that’s not actually true; and the attitude itself seems more characteristic of the old Microsoft than Google.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Features: Analysis | Google: Mobile

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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