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The Google Apple War Gets Even More Testy



Google has hired Tim Bray, the co-founder of XML and a notable tech blogger and given him the title of Developer Advocate as he begins work with the Android team. They might as well have just called him “hell-raiser” for the salvo he unleashed in the announcement of his hiring.

Here’s what he had to say:

The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger.

I hate it.

I hate it even though the iPhone hardware and software are great, because freedom’s not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient…

The big thing about the Web isn’t the technology, it’s that it’s the first-ever platform without a vendor (credit for first pointing this out goes to Dave Winer). From that follows almost everything that matters, and it matters a lot now, to a huge number of people. It’s the only kind of platform I want to help build.

Apple apparently thinks you can have the benefits of the Internet while at the same time controlling what programs can be run and what parts of the stack can be accessed and what developers can say to each other.

I think they’re wrong and see this job as a chance to help prove it.

I think this battle between Google and Apple is going to get a little hotter in the days ahead.




  1. mike

    03/15/2010 at 9:03 am

    Very descriptive and eye opening, why does this not effect their future negatively? Time for Google to go in 4 the kill again… let’s start by getting flash…….! MOTO Android ftw.

  2. Sumocat

    03/15/2010 at 9:19 am

    I don’t understand what Apple’s closed development system has to do with their vision of the mobile Internet. Is he arguing that one will affect the other? Is it a “slippery slope” argument that app control will lead to browser content restrictions? Perhaps there is an argument to be made here, but Bray does elucidate.

  3. Mike

    03/15/2010 at 9:23 am

    I must say I totally agree.

  4. danny

    03/15/2010 at 9:29 am

    Google’s and Apple’s visions are fundamentally different and the truth is, they always have been. It actually makes less sense that they were ever con-conspirators than it does now that they have been outed as sitting on opposite sides of the table. “Applegoo” was purely wishful thinking.

  5. Mickey Segal

    03/15/2010 at 11:04 am

    Bray is making an important point. Apple argued that the iPhone should be very locked down because a phone needed to be very predictable and thus controlled. When Apple planned for the iPad, one could have imagined them producing a big iTouch or a slimmed-down laptop, with all its freedom. These visions are very different.

    Apple went for the big iTouch. If the rumors are true they will also do a slimmed-down laptop model. but if not, they are opting for control rather than freedom.

    Clay Christensen has argued in his new book that sometimes innovation occurs with the type of vertical control that Apple favors, but inexorably the market later opens up after the breakthrough innovation has occurred. Bray is arguing that we’ve reached that opening up stage.

    In the 1980s, PC beat out Macintosh computers by offering more competition in supply of hardware, which offered the security and low price of competing suppliers that the market wanted. Now, the hardware costs very little compared to the service contracts, so the competition will be by design of hardware (where Apple has an advantage) and freedom (where others have an advantage). If Google and others can get good hardware and get past some of Apple’s patent claims we may see replicated what happened in computers in the 1980s.

  6. Peter Kirn

    03/15/2010 at 2:13 pm

    Interesting – essentially, then, his argument is that this is about more than just the browser. After all, the Apple brower on iPad/iPhone has just as much access to the hardware (maybe more so, depending on how deep you dig into JS hooks and such) than Android.

    I tend to agree that that’s the case – “the Internet” is really about any app that uses connectivity – but he isn’t as explicit as he could be about his argument.

  7. Mike

    03/15/2010 at 5:39 pm

    I’ll be fair and say there is something to an argument that apple (and now MS with the new announcements about phone 7) can control user experience and customer service costs better if they control the software allowed.
    However.. I think that the real reason, through and through, is just about money.
    They want to sell the hardware and take a cut of every dime anyone makes for selling any software you are going to use on it.

  8. Virtuous

    03/16/2010 at 1:20 am

    Many apps in the iTunes Store are basically packaged web apps. No one is forcing people to develop for the iPhone and iPad.

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