Why Apple Should Fear (But Also Embrace) Google

Late last week, both AT&T and Apple released there responses to the FCC inquiry regarding the Google Voice iPhone application.  Also, The iPhone Blog, released an article about Apple being afraid that Google is taking over the iPhone.  It is an interesting concept, Apple being afraid of Google and it makes one question where things are going on a technology front.

Let’s review: Apple released an extremely popular phone, the iPhone.  It is used by both seasoned geeks and teenage hipsters looking to be “cool” to their friends and classmates.  It has gone from having zero market share to having a nice worldwide market share in just 3 years (still not beating Nokia but Apple still has some impressive numbers).  Google, in it’s “don’t be evil” way, managed to land 2 native iPhone applications at launch: Google Maps and YouTube.  Not only are these apps native, but they are extremely popular.  Also, Google has two top 50 apps in the iPhone App Store (Google Mobile and Google Earth), and the recent release of the Google Latitude web app Google has an impressive array of applications for use on the iPhone.

So is the rejection of the Google Voice iPhone app a result of fear from Apple about Google taking over the iPhone?  Could be.  But while Apple might be starting to fear Google’s apps on their platform, they should embrace Google.  Why?  Geeks (and the general public) love Google.  They like what they see Google doing.  People pay attention to Google.  Michael Arrington of TechCrunch recently dropped his iPhone over this whole Google Voice debacle.  Apple needs to realize that they have a platform that people like to develop for, and it behoves them to allow as many developers as possible onto that platform.  Aside from blocking obvious pornography apps (and that is another debate all together), Apple needs to stand aside and let people develop and release apps to their device.

It makes sense for Google to target the iPhone even though they have the Android platform.  The iPhone is a popular device, lots of people have one, so targeting apps at it has a good pay off.  And with that in mind, there is this one simple fact: mobile application developers can survive without Apple and it’s iPhone.  The did for years before there was an iPhone.  With more mobile platforms now than before, a mobile application developer has a lot of choices: Android, Windows Mobile, Palm’s WebOS, and even Symbian.  What Apple can’t do is support the App Store without it’s application developers.  Make enough of them angry, especially big ones like Google, Apple runs the risk of losing quality application developers and thus loses quality applications on their platform.

So while Apple might be scared that Google has so many good applications for the iPhone, they should just let it go and accept it.  Apple doesn’t want to lose Google as a App Store developer, because you treat a big company like Google badly, smaller developers will begin to question how viable developing for the iPhone is and move elsewhere. Apple needs to get over it, be more accepting of apps on their platform, and make everyone happy.

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