Eric Schmidt, the Google Chairman, and Steve Jobs were close associates. Some would even say friends. So much so that Steve invited Eric to join Apple’s board. The two companies were orchestrating a partnership that would strengthen both Apple and Google’s hand. Apple users would benefit from having access to Google’s vast catalog of services, and Google would benefit from millions of iPhone users using their apps. They were a match made in heaven.
Then something changed. Google suddenly revealed plans to create a smartphone of their own. This smartphone also had a touchscreen and used Google’s hallowed services in a manner superior to the iPhone. Jobs was blindsided and felt betrayed by a man he considered a friend. As development of the iPad went underway, Jobs was sure to hide it from Schmidt and, by extension, Google. There began a war that sent the two companies down a path of nasty proxy battles in the form of lawsuits.
In the early days of Android, Google could not match the polished iOS experience. The closed system offered by Apple allowed little tampering and a strict app approval process. It was a higher quality experience. For a couple of years, Android was the scrappy upstart with an open-source operating system. There was a war of philosophies. Apple emerged victorious early on.
With Google’s innovative momentum, some believe that it will eventually overshadow Apple as the premier mobile OS. In a London appearance, serial entrepreneur Elon Musk argues that—without Steve Jobs—Apple’s long-term innovation advantage will yield to the Android powerhouse, which now boasts features like Google Now. This is a strong statement, considering that Apple’s devices are the culmination of many efforts, not just one man. With that being said, Steve did have a profound influence on the company and brought Apple from near death in 1996 to unparalleled value this past year. Will his absence dramatically change Apple’s innovative spirit?
I personally feel that users can glean great experiences from both operating systems, but Musk’s point is certainly one worth discussing.