The days of Google and Apple having a cuddly relationship appear to be ending, and unified communications has played a small part in the break-up.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple’s board of directors today, just a few days after the FCC opened an inquiry into why Apple rejected the Google Voice application from its iPhone App Store. Google Voice, based on the technology Google acquired with GrandCentral, is sort of a UC-on-the-cheap technology, as pointed out by our Click to Talk blogger, Tony Bradley. At it’s core, Google Voice allows users to establish a single phone number which can be set to ring any number of devices – desk phones, mobile phones, home phones. It also has some unified messaging features, such as visual voice mail and online voice mail access, and it offers some other useful features, such as call recording, conference calling and directory assistance.
When Apple rejected the Google Voice application, many bloggers were upset. Some suspected that Apple was trying to protect AT&T from losing revenue, since Google Voice users can easily use the technology to move a phone call from their mobile device to a land-line. However, the picture is much more complicated than that.
As Dave Michaels pointed out on his blog, Pin Drop Soup, Apple and Google are now competitors. Although Google remains largely a Web-based software company and Apple remains mostly a hardware company, that distinction isn’t enough to keep this bromance alive. Michaels writes: “Well, maybe not a ‘primary’ competitor since Google doesn’t make hardware. But Google does make a browser, a cell phone platform, and an OS – direct alternatives to those made by Apple.”
Historically, Google and Apple have been relatively friendly toward, based on a mutual distrust of Microsoft. Schmidt’s presence on Apple’s board formalized that friendship. But now the companies’ interests are diverging. Google, which makes the bulk of its revenue in online advertising, wants a wireless Internet that is as open as its wired cousin is. Apple, like Microsoft and the majority of wireless service providers, want maintain a market where devices, operating systems, and carriers have a high degree of control over how wireless users access the Internet.
Apple and Google should have seen this split coming. After all, Microsoft is mostly a software company, too, and it has been Apple’s fiercest rival for decades.