Monday, April 16, 2007

Ga-ga over Goople

This morning’s brings a column by Rachel Rosmarin fantasizing over “Goople” — the possible benefits of greater cooperation or even a merger between Google and Apple.

The column notes the directorship overlaps between Apple and Google (through Eric Schmidt and Arthur Levinson) while conceding that having Larry Ellison sit on Apple’s board didn’t exactly produce a slew of Apple-Oracle partnerships.

GoopleStill, it seems as though the purpose of the column is to introduce a series of fanciful combinations (with clever sketches by Dave Klug) suggested by Rosmarin and various industry analysts.

Overall, I didn’t think much of the suggestions. Yes, Google likes partnerships, and Apple partnering with Google for search is less problematic than partnering with Microsoft. That Apple has stronger ties to Google than Yahoo might tip that decision away from Yahoo, but it’s not like the differences are dramatic.

Perhaps a little more interesting is that (class, take notes) that if I asked students to study the proposed combinations, there is a pretty clear picture of their (perceived) relative competencies: Google has technology, Apple has hardware and distribution, while both have a rapacious desire for diversification.

Although it’s always easier to say “no” than “yes,” most of these didn’t make sense to me. Perhaps only one resulted in incremental revenue for Apple, so why should it bother? It’s not like Google would bestow cachet upon Apple, in the way that a Google-Gateway or Google-Samsung deal would for weaker partners.

Meanwhile, Google’s entire strategy has (thus far) been predicated on being an honest broker, an neutral supplier to all the various systems vendors and infrastructure operators. Vertical integration or efforts to steer customers to Apple would push the Windows vendors into the arms of It might make sense if Mac + Linux were 40% of the search market, but at < 5% it’s foolish. Eric Schmidt spent more than a decade spitting into the wind, first at Sun and then at Novell, so (mixed metaphor alert) he knows better than to throw away any of trump cards in Google’s hand.

Graphic credit: Dave Klug, as published by

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