Apple's five stages of Google grieving

Grief typically follows any breakup, whether by the living separating or death taking one away. Apple's response to the disillusion of its Google relationship is near textbook case of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Apple is slowly coming to terms with life after Google, and like any grieving the process hasn't been easy.

Denial. Two years before Apple released iPhone, Google bought Android. From the August 2005 acquisition, it was clear that Google would make mobile a priority, and surely that a phone would follow. "We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business," Apple CEO Steve Jobs told employees during a March meeting. Google released Android OS about 18 months after iPhone launched in June 2007, but the product was foreseeable. Jobs' retort is classic denial behavior.

Jobs' claim that Apple "did not enter the search business" is another form of denial. Google's search business is all about monetization through advertising. Apple's iAd is such potential advertising competition to Google that last week the US Federal Trade Commission cleared way for Google's AdMob acquisition; before Apple announced iAd, the agency indicated the acquisition could be blocked.

Anger. Jobs' temper is renown around Silicon Valley. Apple's anger against Google is simply undeniable; there are so many examples. Jobs has personally attacked Google in e-mails to Apple customers and partners and through public statements. In March, Jobs reportedly said that Google's oft-quoted "You can make money without doing evil" is "bullshit." Some of those angry statements exhibit deep denial, too, such as Jobs' early April assertion that: "Search is not happening on phones." Who is he fooling but himself?

Apple's HTC lawsuit is a form of repressed anger. While Apple sued HTC, the claims are really about Android and Google. Can you say passive-aggressive behavior?

Bargaining. Google's advances on Apple extend beyond the phone. There is the browser; according to Net Applications, Chrome usage now exceeds Safari. Google released Chrome about the same time as Android, rapidly iterating on the browser -- now approaching version 5 -- for technology developed first by Apple; Chrome is based on WebKit. In a clear swipe against Chrome innovations, Apple bargained with developers during the iPhone 4 OS announcement, on April 8, with new Safari features that extended some of Chrome's best capabilities. Chrome sandboxes tabs to improve performance and to minimize crashes' effects. Apple will go further with kernel-level multi-processing.

Jobs' "Thoughts on Flash" is more bargaining. While seemingly all about Adobe, Apple's anti-Flash campaign is as much about Google. As I explained last month, Apple and Google are taking two different, fundamentally clashing approaches to the mobile Web. Apple's approach is more applications-centric, while Google puts greater emphasis on the browser. Google supports Flash, which is coming with Android 2.2 (some people have it already; you lucky bastards). Google arguably will embrace the real Web, not the one Jobs is bargaining to makeover.

Depression. Jobs has been remarkably prolific over the last couple months responding to customer and developer e-mails. It's commendable that such a prominent CEO is taking such an active role in such an unorthodox way. C`mon, how often do you read about the chief executives of GM, Microsoft or Pepsico responding to so many customer or partner e-mails? But the timing indicates post-Google breakup depression. Jobs' prolific responses started after Schmidt resigned from Apple's board (late summer 2009) and Apple-Google sniping reached public levels (early 2010). Actually, the e-mails are mixed denial, anger and depression.

Acceptance. The e-mails also signal Apple's acceptance -- that Google is a competitor in mobile operating systems and Web browsers, and that the two companies will clash over customers, developers and other partners. In response to a May 22nd e-mail about last week's Gizmodo article asserting that "Google is leapfrogging Apple," Jobs reportedly responded: "Not a chance!" Google is buddy no more, but the enemy. If there was a sixth stage to grief, betrayal, Apple could be said to exhibit it, too.

Apple's HTML 5 push is another form of acceptance, but more self-destructive. While Apple positions HTML 5 as an alternative to Flash, the technology looks to benefit Google much more than Apple. Already Google has used HTML 5 to circumvent Google Voice's prohibition from the iTunes App Store.

Do you have more examples of Apple's five stages of Google grieving? Please offer them up in comments.

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