Apple vs. Google: Who needs each other more?

by Albert Wan Mar 09, 2010

You'd have to be living in a cave to not know that Apple and Google's recent relationship has been, for lack of a better word, rocky.

With the Cold War-esque standoff between the two leading tech-innovators, it is interesting to see who would back down first, if any. Since Google's entrance to the mobile phone and soon computer industry, Google has gone from Apple's ally to Apple's main competitor. The only clear and defined winner of this whole mashup would be the user, as competition and rivalry spurs innovation.

But the topic for discussion I'd like to bring up is: who needs each other more?

With Google holding a dominance in search and a strong player in email, it's clear that regardless of what the user's computer or mobile device is, Google will remain at the top as statistics show. Chrome for Mac's delayed release just further shows that Google's Mac OS X user base is not as large as its Windows' users base. If Apple suddenly decided to embargo Google's services for the Mac, almost nothing would change on Google's perspective except for some very angry Mac users. Some of the iPhone's main features like Maps and YouTube are provided by Google, and unless Apple used Bing maps or another video sharing site, the iPhone wouldn't be a success as it is now. Both Google and Apple contributed to the iPhone's success.

However, the iPhone currently has the largest amount of users on the web. These users have the Google search built in, and so a large portion of Google's web traffic comes from iPhone users. Without having Google as the default provider for search on Apple's devices, Google wouldn't be as mainstream and as popular as it is now. Had Google's services been stamped out by Apple on the iPhone and replaced by another source, a substantial amount of bandwidth and revenue would be cut from Google.

Google receives a substantial amount of free publicity for the iPhone by providing the core services for many apps for the iPhone. While services like Google Voice, Wave, Navigation, and Latitude have been rejected by Apple as standalone apps, Google decided to provide them through the Safari browser, showing that Google still believes a large amount of people accessing these services on the iPhone. Without the iPhone, it's also possible Android would have been released as another mobile operating system without much fanfare or innovative features.

It's convincing that, unlike Microsoft and Apple in the 1980s, there will not be a clearly defined winner this time. Since each were so intertwined with each other for the majority of the previous decade, it's interesting to see what products, services, and new innovations come out of these companies in the years to come.


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