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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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik