May 19, 2010

At Google I/O, Apple Is Invisible and Ignored

Speaking in the shadows of Steve Jobs keynotes past, the first day of Google I/O seemed to work around the elephant in the room of Apple and Google's recent conflicts and ongoing battles in mobile, advertising and the OS. Apple, of course, was not a speaker at the conference, is not participating in any of the breakout sessions, and it seemed as if Google's spokespeople went out of their way to work around Apple's positions on app stores, standards, and most notoriously, Flash. The war between Apple and Google has been heating up over the last year, and as of January, the two companies were said to consider the other as primary enemies, even as Google has made it easier for traditional Mac fans to seek out an alternative. But today, not only did the speakers not bring up Apple, or note their lack of inclusion in some standards, but practically every Mac laptop that was used saw the familiar glowing Apple covered with a Google sticker of some sort.

While the morning's keynote did not slam Apple or its products, as some light teasing was reserved exclusively for Microsoft's Internet Explorer, consistently highlighted as a non-modern browser, it was clear that the speakers wanted to promote open standards wherever possible, gave significant stage time to Kevin Lynch, CTO of Adobe, the purveyors of the much-aligned Flash, and it wasn't until 10:40, 100 minutes into a near two-hour keynote that you even saw an Apple product - the iPad, which was used to display a lengthy demo of Google Web Toolkit, integrated with VMware's SpringSource.

Additionally, as Daring Fireball noticed, the ambitious WebM Project, based on the VP8 video codec, was shown as being supported by practically every major browser and application vendor - with Apple being a clear exception.

Without presenting themselves as the anti-Apple, Google's call for openness, its drive for support of Adobe Flash, its demonstration of Android-based phones in all cases, masking of Apple logos whenever possible, and its seeming lack of awareness of walking in the same halls as Macworlds past, seemed to drive home that the team from Mountain View has a very different objective than does the team from Cupertino. In light of the fact that many seemed to think that the iPad would be the savior of media, it's eye-opening that Sports Illustrated spent so much time this morning championing the Web and Google's Chrome offering. Google looks like they're moving beyond Apple's control and is finding a way to deliver the same experience, on their terms, no matter what Steve Jobs says.