Google had their developer conference last week and they did a shocking amount of Apple bashing. I keep up with tech news, so I have been following all the back and forth. I have been struggling with my feelings and it’s been bothering me. I have literally been depressed — like unheathy depressed — and I realize a lot of it has to do with this Google-Apple battle. It reminds of the political scene, which I avoid completely, as the whole mess makes me want to move to Mars to escape the disgusting bickering. The sides are diametrically opposed, won’t listen to each other at all, spew the same lies over and over until they sound like truth, and both claim to be correct.
The first thing to note is that I admit up front that I’m a fan of Apple products and I don’t apologize for that. Note that I don’t say I’m a fan of the company: that’s an important distinction. I love products that make my life better, but I don’t care who makes them. I could care less what logo is on the thing. If it works for me, then I support it. So far, Apple products have done that. I’ve been buying them since the late 1980s and they just keep getting better and better. I love my Macs, my iPhone, and now my iPad.
I used to be a big Google fan. I can still remember — a long, long time ago — when I switched my search engine from Alta Vista to Google. Google was a tiny company few had heard of back then. I loved the plain homepage that loaded up instantly and didn’t have the awful clutter of Yahoo and other search sites. I loved many things about the company: their homebrew nature, their embrace of open source software like the Linux operating system, and the way they emphasized simplicity over Microsoft’s embrace of complexity.
Today I have serious problems with Google. They have lost their way. The Google of today resembles Microsoft far more than early Apple. Like Microsoft, they are a huge company with an insanely profitable business and with a monopoly in their industry. (Remember, a monopoly in and of itself is not illegal — only the abuse of monopoly power is illegal.) Google’s monopoly on search is even more insidious than Microsoft’s OS: at least Microsoft’s is visible and you have to choose to buy it. Google probably has data on you if you’ve think you’ve never used the service!
But the business problem with a monopoly is that you’ve already conquered the market. There is no room to grow. Thus both companies have been on a voracious search for new revenue. They’ve bought their way in dozens of unrelated industries. Microsoft co-owns a television network and makes video game machines. Google’s now making operating systems, just announced plans on getting into televisions and set-top boxes, is coming to tablets and netbooks, and will start selling music and ebooks soon. Where will it end? None of these new ventures are profitable and both companies have neglected their core products, but both have plenty of money to lose on experiments and apparently feel it’s key to expand and get into these other markets in case they get lucky a second time.
Because I’m an Apple fan, perhaps it seems natural for me to resent Google’s move into Apple’s territory (I’m mostly talking about Google’s mobile phone operating system, Android, which attempts to compete with iPhone, though Google is also promising to compete with Apple in a slew of other areas, such as music downloads). But I don’t like to think so simplistically. I pride myself on being fair and open-minded. Am I such an Apple freak that my emotions are outweighing logical and rational thinking? Could it be that I’m overreacting because I’m afraid of Android? I don’t like to think so, but until recently I wasn’t sure.
Now I realize that my mixed feelings are the source of my dilemma. I have strong feelings and opinions about the Google-Apple battle, and I wondered why my emotions were so powerful. Some of the things I’ve heard recently have made me extremely angry. I don’t like feeling angry. This has frustrated me and bothered me but I couldn’t get a handle on it because I didn’t want to pick sides based on emotion. I wanted to pick the right side.
I feel like the child of divorcing parents. Suddenly two people I looked up to are fighting and I’m lost and confused and bitter. Who do I support? Why must I choose? (A lot of my anger, I see, comes from being forced to choose.)
But Google is forcing this decision. They are actively attacking Apple. Has Apple ever attacked Google? Apple puts Google on their phones and used to have Google’s CEO on their board of directors. They were friends. But Google is not just competing with Apple, they are bad-mouthing the company, spreading lies about Apple’s products, promoting their own technology, and expanding to compete with Apple on multiple fronts. This is vindictive and nasty, just like a couple who once loved each other and that love has turned to hatred and they know each other’s vulnerabilities and hot buttons. It is this nastiness that I am sensing and that has been depressing me. These are two great companies that I loved and supported. And I’m going to have to choose one. That pisses me off.