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Apple To Google: It's Not You, It's Me

Was that a note of bitterness I detected in Google's statement when Apple bounced its Google Voice from the iPhone app store?

We work hard to bring Google applications to a number of mobile platforms, including the iPhone. Apple did not approve the Google Voice application we submitted six weeks ago to the Apple App Store. We will continue to work to bring our services to iPhone users, for example by taking advantage of advances in mobile browsers.
Today, Google CEO Eric Schmidt quit Apple's board because the two companies are clearly encroaching on one another's turf with alarming frequency, and not because of a spat over Google Voice. And the FCC's investigation has nothing to do with the timing, of course.

The question is, where do they go from here? Will they behave like two "adults," or will they engage in spiteful behavior, like dating a mutual acquaintance (like Microsoft)? For the time being, Google is behaving like the partner scorned -- and it has good reason to. Google mobile developer Sean Kovacs blogged that he got a call from Apple's Richard Chipman telling him Apple was rejecting the app, and noted, "he wouldn't send a confirmation email either -- too scared I would post it."

Google seems to have realized that they're not members of a mutual admiration society; people close to the two companies have told me that Google executives, and co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in particular, "really love" Apple. Well guys, your hero worship isn't reciprocal, at least not if you get in Apple's way. And many signs point to a very messy break-up.

Richard Brandt, a longtime Silicon Alley observer and author of the forthcoming "Inside Larry and Sergey's Brain," told me that a collision between the two companies is growing inevitable. The bans of both Google Voice and Latitude are "more evidence of the competition between Apple and Google," he wrote in an e-mail.

Apple was happy to partner with Google as long as it served its interests, principally weakening their mutual rival, Microsoft. If this were a buddy picture, Han Solo would come swooping in at the end, or Danny Glover would ride to Mel Gibson's assistance. But that's an unlikely conclusion to this feature, which is more bloody Quentin Tarrantino than hero-with-a-thousand-faces-inspired George Lucas.

But Apple's rejection isn't purely anti-Google; this is an anti-everyone-in-our-way move. Just ask the folks at Spotify how they feel when they'll get rejected, as it most likely will for competing with Apple's iTune music business. The question is, when Apple releases its forthcoming tablet-like device, will it bundle offers for Web-based applications like Google Apps and Zoho? Or will it include an online version of Microsoft Office for Mac? That will tell us more about the future direction of their relationship than anything their executives mouth to the press.

[Image source: akaben via Flickr]

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