Some time ago I read Founders at Work and learned quite a lot about the early days of Apple, as told from Steve Wozniak’s perspective. What was most remarkable was how close Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Wozniak all were to one another, and to the early foundations of the personal computer.
It seems like Jobs has always been been driven, forceful and something of a nerdjock, whereas the geeks he surrounded himself with (for their technical prowess) were just plain nerds (i.e. Bill Gates and Wozniak). Nowadays it seems that Jobs has found folks to hang out with that are more his type: fewer pocket-protectors, more social skills, better servers.
I’m of course talking about the folks at Google. And I’ve been going on and on about their strategic relationship and how important it is for some time, but finally I can point to arch-curmudgeon Nick Carr to speak for me. In “Google, Apple and the future of personal computing“, he observes:
At this very moment, in a building somewhere in Silicon Valley, I guarantee you that a team of engineers from Google and Apple are designing a set of devices that, hooked up as terminals to Google’s “supercomputer,” will define how we use computers in the future. You can see various threads of this system today – in Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, its dot-mac service, its iLife and iWork applications as well as in Google’s Apps suite and advertising system, not to mention its vast data-center network. What this team is doing right now is weaving all those threads together into what will be, for most of us, the fabric of cloud computing. (This is so big, you need at least two metaphors to describe it.)
Here’s how the partnership works. Apple is taking responsibility for “the user interface and people.” It’s designing the devices themselves, which will be typically elegant machines that run versions of OS X. While Apple puts together the front end of the integrated network-computing system, Google provides “the perfect back end” – the supercomputer that provides the bulk of the data-processing might and storage capacity for the devices. While the devices will come with big flash drives to ensure seamless computing despite the vagaries of network traffic, all data will be automatically backed up into Google’s data centers, and those centers will also serve up most of the applications that the devices run. The applications themselves will represent the joint efforts of Google and Apple – this, I’m sure, is the trickiest element of the partnership – and will be supplemented, of course, by myriad web-delivered software services created by other companies (many of which will, in due course, also run on Google’s supercomputer).
Well, it’s nice to know that someone else sees the potentiality of this relationship.
And it’s also nice to know that, in Google, Steve Jobs has found a couple more stylish nerd types that finally appreciate the more suave and sophisticated side of his geekdom. Together, finally, they’re going to give Bill Gates the atomic wedgie of his life.