Google and Apple weren’t always bitter enemies – in fact, before Eric Schmidt was asked to leave Apple’s board of directors to prevent him from “borrowing” iPhone secrets for Android, Steve Jobs was downright chummy with Google. Since then, things spiraled downward, to the point where Steve Jobs waged “thermonuclear war” against Android for stealing design and functional ideas from the iPhone.
Google CEO Larry Page had a few things to say about that in an interview late last week with Wired. When asked to respond to reports about Steve Jobs’ ‘thermonuclear’ war against Android, Page had only one thing to say in response: “How well is that working?”
Wired: Steve Jobs felt competitive enough to claim that he was willing to “go to thermonuclear war” on Android.
Page: How well is that working?
Leading up to his snarky outburst, Page also took the opportunity to criticize Apple for focusing on only a small number of things, and claiming that Google just doesn’t find that philosophy satisfying – they want to do much, much more:
You know, we always have these debates: We have all this money, we have all these people, why aren’t we doing more stuff? You may say that Apple only does a very, very small number of things, and that’s working pretty well for them. But I find that unsatisfying. I feel like there are all these opportunities in the world to use technology to make people’s lives better. At Google we’re attacking maybe 0.1 percent of that space. And all the tech companies combined are only at like 1 percent. That means there’s 99 percent virgin territory. Investors always worry, “Oh, you guys are going to spend too much money on these crazy things.” But those are now the things they’re most excited about—YouTube, Chrome, Android. If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things.
He makes a good point about being willing to do “crazy” things – but much of his commentary comes across as Google wanting to be a jack of all trades. And common wisdom suggests that trying to do everything well usually doesn’t work out. Jack of all trades, master of none, right? Indeed, it must be said that Google is a master in a number of areas – including search.
Perhaps Google’s broad ambitions are working out for them better than one might expect! We’ll leave that to your interpretation…