Google's Page: Apple's Android troubles all 'for show'

Google CEO Larry Page says that Apple's desire to make Android into a villain was designed to "rally around" a single idea.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' issues with Android have been well-documented. But Google CEO Larry Page isn't convinced they were real.

Speaking to Bloomberg BusinessWeek in an interview published today, Page said that Jobs' and Apple's "Android differences were actually for show," adding that a meeting he had with Jobs prior to his death was quite cordial. Still, Page said he understands why Apple and Jobs publicly took issue with Android -- he just doesn't believe it was the right move.

"I think that served their interests," Page told Bloomberg BusinessWeek. "For a lot of companies, it's useful for them to feel like they have an obvious competitor and to rally around that. I personally believe that it's better to shoot higher. You don't want to be looking at your competitors. You want to be looking at what's possible and how to make the world better."

Google and Apple didn't always have a contentious relationship. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt once sat on Apple's board of directors. After Android launched, however, Schmidt resigned and soon after, Jobs went on the offense. The Apple co-founder was so displeased with Android that he told his biographer Walter Isaacson in an interview that he would do anything in his power to take down Android.

"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong," Jobs told Isaacson. "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

Jobs' anger toward Google even spilled over to Android users, telling his biographer that he doesn't want to make their lives any easier.

"We thought about whether we should do a music client for Android. We put iTunes on Windows in order to sell more iPods. But I don't see an advantage of putting our own music app on Android, except to make Android users happy," Jobs told Isaacson. "And I don't want to make Android users happy."

Although Page tried to stay above the fray in his interview, his executive chairman had difficulty with that in an interview with Reuters last year. Schmidt praised Steve Jobs as a "fantastic human being," but he couldn't help trying to set the record straight.

"As a general comment, I think most people would agree that Google is a great innovator and I would also point out that the Android effort started before the iPhone effort," Schmidt said.

Some other tidbits from Larry Page's interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

  • Page said that he would "love to have better access to data," but the Internet naturally moves toward a "well-guarded state."
  • When pressed about the possibility of Google paying dividends, Page said that he has nothing to announce at this time.
  • Page is a big fan of Samsung's Galaxy tablets, but was previously using the Motorola Xoom.