Stop the Noiz

Apple Now Sees Microsoft as Less Evil than Google

Frank Fox - 2010.03.10 - Tip Jar

In Apple's opinion, Microsoft has become the lesser of two evils when compared with Google. One indication of this is that Apple is seriously considering giving Microsoft's Bing search engine top spot for search on the iPhone, a spot Google search has held since the iPhone first shipped in the summer of 2007.

The question is: What does Google have that makes it more evil than Microsoft in Apple's eyes?

Apple and Microsoft: BFF

First, I'd like to point out that Microsoft and Apple have long been working partners. Applesoft BASIC on the Apple II+ (and later) was licensed from Microsoft. Microsoft Word and MultiPlan (Excel's predecessor) were two of the earliest Mac apps.

Microsoft Office for Mac is such an important business tool that Apple wants to keep in place. Apple went so far as to agree (in August 1997) to make Internet Explorer the default browser on every new Mac sold, displacing Netscape. Microsoft only dropped support for the Mac version of IE after Apple launched Safari and made it the default Mac browser with the release of Mac OS X 10.3 in October 2003.

Apple largely sticks by its friends until they disappoint it, as we learned when Apple announced that it would abandon IBM, Motorola Freescale, and PowerPC in favor of Intel in 2005.

Google Is Selfish

Google, on the other hand, is mostly about itself. It reminds me of pure marketing snake oil salesmen who will give away free stuff as long as you give up your privacy concerns and let them exploit all the ways to send you ads. If the federal government tracked everything we did on a computer, everyone would worry about Big Brother looking over our shoulders, but if it's Google, then it's okay?

Consumers get million dollars worth of free stuff, and Google gets to make billions in advertising. That's just good business, even if your privacy gets thrown out in the process.

Don't get me wrong: If Apple and Google had a reasonable profit sharing plan for dividing up the Internet, the two companies would be thick as thieves. However, Apple's plan for world domination has been on a collision course with Google's since the iPhone gained apps in July 2008.

Apple vs. Android

HTC is the company (I won't say little company, since its market cap is $7 billion) that got caught in the crossfire. HTC crossed Steve Jobs' second commandment: Thou shalt not makes phones in the image of the iPhone. This is a really important rule that Apple wants to see everyone follow. This is not about Jobs' ego or the need for revenge. The iPhone is just so profitable that the business choice has to be to protect the goose that lays the golden eggs.

The attack on HTC (also see Apple vs. HTC Will Delay iPad Competitors) may drive phone developers to Microsoft and the Window 7 Mobile mess, but Apple now sees Microsoft as less of a threat than Google's Android platform.

Yes, the blogosphere is full of praise for Win 7 Mobile, but this is Microsoft we are talking about - even its best stuff is full of flaws and security problems. Once it goes beyond demoware and people actually use it, complaints will surface.

Google, on the other hand, is able to give people free beta software for years, and no one complains because the price is great. Free crap software from Google is a bigger threat to Apple than crap software from Microsoft.

At least in the case of the iPhone OS, Apple prefers Microsoft with its for-profit business model as its primary competitor vs. Google's "free as in beer but will make a killing on ads" model.

The key here is time. In time we will see how Apple responds to the "free as in beer" threat - when or if Apple starts selling advertising itself. Apple's current goal is to gain the time needed to prepare a stronger defense - and a new multibillion dollar revenue stream in the process. LEM

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