The relationship between Apple and Google could turn to open warfare, as both firms plot and counter-plot against each other in air seemingly thick with bad blood.
Today’s news sees Apple poach RJ Pittman from Google. Pittman was a key member of Google’s OneBox music search launch. His role saw him work with streaming music firms such as LaLa to launch the service.
“I couldn’t be more excited for what lies ahead. They’ve created a pretty neat role for me, which I will be able to talk about soon after I’ve started working there,” he told colleagues.
The hire suggests two things:
1. That Apple’s music streaming plans continue to advance.
2. That the deal between Apple and Google under which neither firm would poach the other’s employees is dust.
So, just how much do Apple and Google hate one another? The New York Times says things look pretty poor with the battle between iPhone and Android is the heart of it: “Mr. Jobs believes that Google violated the alliance between the companies by producing cellphones that physically, technologically and spiritually resembled the iPhone,” a report says.
Experts warn it will get worse. “I’m sure it is going to get uglier,” says Harvard Business School prof David Yoffie. “To beat Apple, Google is going to have to be very aggressive.”
“It’s World War III. Amazing animosity is motivating two of the most powerful people in the industry,” he says. “This is emotional. This is the biggest ego battle in history. It’s incendiary,” another commenter said.
Google has a few tricks too, hiring Web guru Tim Bray to its Android team. Bray is the co-inventor of XML, a notable tech blogger, and until recently a Sun Microsystems employee. On his new task, he writes:
“The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger.
“I hate it.
“I hate it even though the iPhone hardware and software are great, because freedom’s not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient…
“The big thing about the Web isn’t the technology, it’s that it’s the first-ever platform without a vendor (credit for first pointing this out goes to Dave Winer). From that follows almost everything that matters, and it matters a lot now, to a huge number of people. It’s the only kind of platform I want to help build.
“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.”