So, Google chairman and chief executive officer Eric Schmidt is stepping down as a non-executive director of Apple. What took them so long to get rid of him?
Actually, the smarter question is: why was he allowed to assume the position in the first place, back in August 2006?
The conventional answer is that friendship with Apple ceo Steve Jobs mutated into an alliance of interest against the overweening power of Microsoft. The non-exec appointment set the seal on a pincer movement, Apple blunting Microsoft’s forays into mobile operating systems, and Google undermining it on the search and internet open-source applications front.
Tactically, the alliance has had some success. Strategically, it was doomed from the start, because many of the weapons developed by Google in its war on Microsoft also pose a second-degree threat to Apple. Google’s Chrome browser, for example, conflicts with Apple’s Safari, and was under development even before Schmidt took up his Apple appointment.
The balancing act has become progressively more difficult with Google’s launch of a mobile operating system – Android – which challenges the iPhone as well as Mobile Windows, and most recently its introduction of a rival PC operating system, Chrome OS. The last straw on the camel’s back, it transpires, was Apple blocking a version of Google’s Voice application for its iPhone. That, and Federal regulators snooping around the conflict of interest issue.
The problem can be more simply expressed, however. Tribally speaking, Apple is closer to its deadly enemy Microsoft than it is to Google. For Apple and Microsoft, the principle of the intelligent, remote personal computer is fundamental to their business thinking. Google, on the other hand, is all about internet server-based technology and open-source, as opposed to proprietary, software applications.