In Google-Apple partnership, Jobs gets the Bill Gates he always wanted

Steve Jobs and Bill GatesSome 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.

atomic_wedgieAnd 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.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

3 thoughts on “In Google-Apple partnership, Jobs gets the Bill Gates he always wanted”

  1. You know, I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time (maybe when I finally get the Sci-Fi Hi-Fi blog relaunched I finally will), but in a nutshell, I think people tend to give companies like Apple and Google way too much credit for this sort of long term thinking.

    One of my favorite examples of this was reading Dave Winer awhile back talking about podcasting being added to iTunes, and how it was evidence of this massive strategy Apple had been brewing up. In reality, from what I saw, it was far more of an afterthought. Hell, iTunes *itself* was a bit of an afterthought–it’s easy to forget, given what a digital music powerhouse Apple has become, but iTunes was born out of a perception that Apple was lagging the PC market in digital media by not bundling CD burning drives. Meanwhile, while I’m no expert on Google, what I’ve seen there leads me to believe that, while they’ve got some general ideas about what they want to do in terms of massive computing power, they’re flailing around as much as anyone trying to figure out what their next big thing is going to be. Even this supposed Apple/Google alliance is, I think, far less organized and concrete than people would like to believe.

    My suspicion is that both companies have some general ideas about where they’re headed and how they might work together, but beyond that any collaboration is pretty ad-hoc.

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