During the annual Allen and Co media conference held in Idaho, Google chairman Eric Schmidt has revealed that the once very frosty relationship between Apple and Google is starting to improve. The two companies, which are simultaneously rivals and business partners, have been conducting “lots and lots” of meetings at often very high levels. According to the comments made by Schmidt, Google’s Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora has been leading many of the discussions.
Emphasizing the better relations between the companies, Schmidt said that the two are in “constant business discussions on a long list of issues.” He also praised Apple saying it was a “proud, well-run” company – as is Google. But that they are two very “different companies.”
Google’s relationship with Apple has been a real roller-coaster of a ride. At its high point Apple made Google the center of its online service offerings including search, maps and email. Eric Schmidt was even a member of Apple’s board. However when Google launched Android things turned sour. Jobs is quoted, in Walter Isaacson’s biography of the Apple co-founder, as saying, “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
After Schmidt left Apple’s board the relationship has been bumpy with Apple suing Google and Google’s partners over Android. Last year Apple tried to ditch Google Maps, which was – until then – the default navigation app on iOS and replace it with its own maps service. However Apple’s new map service wasn’t fully ready and caused lots of negative publicity for Apple. Earlier this month Apple also announced that it was dropping Google as the default search engine for Siri, instead it would use Microsoft’s Bing.
The initial benefits of an improved relationship between Apple and Google would probably be felt most by iOS users, who might see Google re-instated as the first choice of online services. However since Google now owns Motorola and the firewall between the two, which ensures that Motorola doesn’t get any special treatment, could be taken down if needed, it looks like Google and Apple will also remain both rivals and partners, in a complex but dynamic relationship!