There was a lot of pushing and shoving going on this week among the biggest players in technology. Google had its I/O conference and introduced several products and services aimed squarely at Apple, but that wasn't enough for them. Oh no, they had to rub Steve Jobs' nose in what they were doing whether upgrading Android, adding music sales to their online App store, creating a viable alternative to Apple TV or announcing their very own video codec to compete with Apple's choice h.264. Oh and they compared Apple to Big Brother too, and if all of that weren't enough, they invited Adobe on stage and actually made of fun the fact that Flash didn't work on the iPad.
It occurred to me this was getting ugly and I had the image of a school playground in my head:
* In one corner Apple pushed Adobe to the ground after bloodying its nose.
* Google suggested Apple pick on somebody its own size and shoved Apple.
* Apple just laughed and asked Google if that was the best they got.
* HP and Microsoft sat on the sidelines like a couple of scared wimpy kids wanting to join the fray, but not sure how to do it.
Just another week in the world of technology.
Jobs Strikes Back
Meanwhile Steve Jobs defended his proprietary world in an email exchange with Ryan Tate of Gawker last weekend. To Jobs, it was about platform purity, not Big-Brother style control. By controlling the platform from nasty outside elements (like Flash), it protected the user experience and kept it pure. It actually makes sense on one level, and Jobs may even believe it, but from an outsider's perspective it's all about command and control. That said, it's hard to argue with popularity of Apple products or the beauty of the user experience.
Apple Walks Alone
Google and Apple used to be friends. Apple and Adobe used to hang out. Microsoft and Apple used to pal around. See a common pattern here. Apple goes its own way. It's the Neil Young of technology. ("I got bored and left them there, they were just dead weight to me. Better down the road without that load.") Sure, they'll hang as long as it's interesting, but the overall experience is what it's about. It's rock and roll to Young. It's technology for Jobs.
Google Moves On
Google severed any last vestiges of friendship with Apple this week when it took a stand at I/O. There wasn't anyone in that room or watching around the world who didn't get that Google had turned its full attention to Apple and it was aiming to take them down (well, at least a notch). Whether any of these products and services announced this week deliver on the promise remains to be seen, but one thing is clear. The playground fight has just begun and these two kids are not going to back down.