Rather than suing Google, which Google could afford financially and which would have enabled a relatively quick settlement or resolution of some kind, Apple instead has been waging a series of endless proxy wars -- suing Google’s OEM partners for patent infringements in multiple countries.
Even more damaging to Google is that Apple has apparently decided to start phasing out Google’s apps and services from the iOS platform.
Apple replaced Google Latitude with Find My Friends; Google Places with Yelp; Google Maps with Apple Maps; Gmail and Google Talk with iMessage; and ultimately I believe they’ll replace even Google Search with Siri, plus other search engines (for now Siri uses Google Search and other services).
All this replacement of Google apps and services involve a dramatic reduction in Google revenue. One analyst said that iOS apps account for about 40 percent of Google’s mobile revenue (which is about 2% of its overall revenue). However, since the future of advertising will become increasingly mobile, the lost revenue from iOS in the future is probably massive.
Apple’s “scorched earth” policy on Google apps is similar to a tactic used by the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War: Year after year, the Spartan army advanced on Athens. When citizens took cover inside the city walls, the Spartans’ burned down surrounding farms and olive trees, depriving Athens of some of its income.
Apple is also resorting to another Spartan tactic: alliance with the “barbarians.” (The Greeks called any non-Greek speaking people “barbaros,” which is the origin of the English word “barbarian.”)
The Peloponnesian War dragged on for 27 years in part because while Sparta was superior on land, Athens was superior on sea (Sparta had no real navy of its own). Sparta was finally able to defeat Athens through an alliance with an enemy of both Athens and Sparta: The Persians.
Likewise, Apple has no social network of its own, and so has made a pact with a rival of both Google and Apple: Facebook.
This is a shocking alliance, because Facebook has encroached on Apple’s businesses just like Google did, but less aggressively and less successfully.
In September, Facebook entered into a bundle of partnerships that made it the Internet’s “primary entertainment hub,” according to The New York Times. Facebook is rumored to be launching a phone next year using executives poached from Apple, again according to the Times.
Facebook has also launched a series of apps that replace Apple’s own apps, including a Messenger app that competes with iMessage; and a Camera app that competes with Apple’s Camera app.
Despite all this encroachment into Apple’s business, Apple still announced Monday major integration of Facebook into both iOS and OS X.
And Apple used precious time during the keynote to take conspicuous jabs at Google and Android.
It looks to me like Apple has become obsessed with Google to the point where they are making irrational decisions. The Wall Street Journal has even called it Apple’s “crusade against Google.”
And, of course, Google will fight back by continuing to grab global market share with Android, additional encroachments on Apple’s core businesses, and who knows how else.
Open warfare between Google and Apple is inevitable, just as it was for Athens and Sparta. And it will probably end the same way: with both parties diminished.
Competition is good. But this isn’t healthy competition. When companies start making decisions that are irrational, or that don’t benefit them from a strategic business perspective, it’s something more than business.
Like Athens and Sparta, Google and Apple could have ruled the world together. Together, they are unstoppable.
Instead, it appears, they will try to destroy each other -- and they will partly succeed.