I have a somewhat unique theory about Apple and Google and how the top executives at each company decided to carve up the smartphone world back when the iPhone was launched (referred by some as The Palo Alto Accord). It’s an imaginative story of intrigue worthy of a spy thriller novel. What happened?
With absolutely no proof or verifiable sources, I believe Steve Jobs colluded with then Google CEO Eric Schmidt to ensure browser-based web apps would be the standard for the iPhone. Why? Google feared the iPhone and the potential of native applications. Why, with smartphone customers using native apps, the search giant would lose control over search and user data.
In the early days of the iPhone Steve Jobs fought tooth and nail with Apple’s executives to prevent native app development on the iPhone. Jobs apparently was satisfied the iPhone would be a success with browser-based web applications and Apple should be the company that developed native apps.
Google, of course, appreciated Apple’s decision to use only browser-based web apps because that meant the search engine company’s ability to gather user data, even on the iPhone, would be unimpeded by native apps which had the potential to disrupt Google’s business model.
When Jobs caved in to internal pressure and allowed Apple to create a software development kit for iPhone, Google knew they’d been betrayed by Jobs and responded by making Android OS free for cell phone manufacturers. Google had no choice but to compete with Apple on the OS level, because Apple made iPhone application development a business that took direct aim against their business model. And, as we all know, native apps prevent Google from collecting information from users to sell to advertisers, and diminish the company’s famed advertising machine’s ability to display ads.
Plausible? Yes. True? Perhaps.
Or, it could have been that time was needed for Apple to create the software development platform for iOS apps, and he bought that time by cutting a deal with Google and pushing browser-based web apps upon the developer community. Either way, Google was betrayed and responded by launching Android OS as a free platform for smartphone manufacturers.
Don’t view this as a negative perspective on Apple or Steve Jobs. Google deserved to be thrown under a bus. Personally, I wish Apple would do it more often under Tim Cook. Google deserves it.