Apple and Google End Cold War over Coffee. Look out Microsoft

by Matt Klassen on April 2, 2010

Earlier this week Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt were spotted enjoying a quaint and quiet cup of coffee at a sidewalk café in Palo Alto, California, and such a scene has got many speculating about the status of the ongoing cold war between these two tech giants.

In true cold war style, Apple and Google have been careful to avoid any direct confrontation with each other, lest their petty feud hurt both their businesses. Instead, the two companies have battled each other through unfortunate intermediaries, with companies like the Taiwanese based HTC, a leading manufacturer of Android-devices, finding themselves in the same position as Afghanistan in the ‘80s…stuck in the middle.

For many, the sight of Jobs and Schmidt together enjoying a quiet cup of coffee could only mean that both men have come to some sort of mutual understanding; acknowledging the fact that ongoing disputes between their companies threaten to negatively impact both sides…or maybe it was just a cup of coffee.

With Apple setting up for the hotly anticipated release of the iPad and new iPhone, and Google rolling out new Android devices like they are going out of style, it seems that now’s the time for both CEOs to forget the past. For, as Macnewsworld writer Richard Adhikari speculates, “If Apple and Google should turn cut-throat competition into all-out war, it would hurt both their businesses.”

The thing I struggle to wrap my mind around, however, is how burying the hatchet could possibly be better for business than an ongoing, and not to mention interesting and engaging, feud between these tech giants? For if there’s one thing us technological plebeians enjoy, its watching our betters fight it out in the public arena. Not to mention the fact that the continued struggle between Apple and Google has only benefitted mobile customers, with both companies working hard to produce better devices in an unending game of one-upsmanship.

While I would wager Jobs and Schmidt have little to talk about these days, one topic they both have in common is their mutual dislike for Microsoft, something I’ve covered in detail over the past few months. To that end, there is some conjecture that Apple is looking to return to Google as the default search engine for the iPhone, replacing Microsoft’s Bing engine, which Apple had turned to earlier this year

But does all that really add up? While Google may want to broker a modicum of peace between Apple and HTC for the sake of Android popularity, it certainly seems that Apple has nothing to gain through softening this rivalry. For me, the simple fact that this story doesn’t make sense for both sides lends credence to the fact that their little café tête-à-tête was either a staged press event or it didn’t even happen at all (you can do amazing things with Photoshop these days).

Whatever the case may be, the simple fact is, controversy is good for business; something I’m sure both Jobs and Schmidt are well aware of. So while it’s nice to see two friends- turned-enemies (when Jobs kicked Schmidt off Apple’s board of directors) turning back to friends, I for one hope this Cold War continues to rage on.

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