Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google Tries On Another Apple Business for Size

Remember when Google was an advertising company and Apple sold hardware and content? When it didn’t seem insane to have Eric Schmidt sitting on Steve Jobs’s board of directors?

Cut to now: Google (GOOG) sells digital movies, is about to sell digital books and would like to sell digital TV shows. It is also trying, for now, to sell Google-branded phones directly to consumers. The one thing it’s not selling that Apple does is music, though there are persistent rumblings that the Googleplex is interested in playing there, too.

Apple (AAPL), meanwhile, is adding advertising (along with movies and books and phones, etc.) to its offerings. Next up perhaps: Search.

You can add nuance to this if you want. Google’s e-bookstore is designed to be compatible with Apple’s iPad, for instance. And its search engine is still the default on Apple’s mobile devices. Meanwhile, Steve Jobs counts on Google’s YouTube as an ally in his fight against Adobe (ADBE) and its Flash standard.

But make no mistake: These two companies are going to be competing directly for a long time to come. And no matter how many al fresco coffees their CEOs enjoy together, it’s going to be a fierce battle.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald