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NY Times details Google/Apple relationship souring


What began as a jovial relationship between Google and Apple has devolved into an ugly personal and legal battle that's only getting worse.

In 2006, Google CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt joined Apple's board of directors. Google and Apple collaborated on the iPhone's mapping services, and a year later, Schmidt joined Jobs on stage during the iPhone's introduction at Macworld Expo. The two men were all smiles and compliments, and the venture looked bright.

After the iPhone's release in the US, both companies went about their business, both collaboratively and independently. While Apple worked on solidifying a foothold in the global smartphone market, Google continued development on Android and the Chrome OS -- both competitors to Apple's iPhone and OS X. Eventually, the divergent interests of Apple and Google came to a head, and Dr. Schmidt resigned from his position on Apple's board due to "...conflicts of interest."

Today, The New York Times points out, the chasm between these two men and their companies is deep and personal. At a recent town hall-style employee meeting, Jobs had harsh words for his former collaborator:

"We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake: they want to kill the iPhone. We won't let them."

Schmidt offered a conciliatory response to the Times, saying, "I continue to believe, as many do, that Steve Jobs is the best C.E.O. in the world today, and I admire Apple and Steve enormously."

Earlier this month, Apple sued HTC, the Taiwan-based handset manufacturer that builds the Nexus One for Google, for 20 patent violations related to the iPhone. While Google was not named in the suit, it's generally held that this was meant as a warning shot across Google's bow. "We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO." We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."

Just this week there's been some jousting of personnel. On one hand, RJ Pittman, a prominent product manager at Google, has left the company to join Apple. Yesterday he said, "My last day at Google. Incredible experience. Amazing people. Moved mountains. Next chapter. Hello Apple." via Twitter (the tweet has since been deleted). In an email that TechCrunch obtained, Mr. Pittman told his former coworkers, "I was sprung from Google by a little company down the road that you might have heard of called Apple...They've created a pretty neat role for me, which I will be able to talk about soon after I've started working there."

On the other hand, former Sun technologist Tim Bray (co-inventor of XML) has joined Google's Android team, and quickly posted some harsh words for the iPhone:

"The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet's future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It's a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord's pleasure and fear his anger. I hate it."

Rumors suggest that Apple will replace Google as the iPhone's default search engine (an arrangement that earns Apple millions of dollars every year) with Bing. Google continues to push Android and Chrome, Apple moves ever further towards its own goals, and the battle is going to get uglier.

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