It always struck me as kinda bizarre that the CEO of Google sat on the board of Apple. Especially now that both companies appear to be doing battle with Microsoft, it seemed like something between a non-aggression pact and formalized alliance against the beleaguered software giant. But today Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced he will be leaving the board, and news is that just like that other famous non-aggression pact, this relationship has soured quickly.
Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch says the crux of the souring could be Apple' recent decision to not allow the iPhone to carry the Google Voice app. Google Voice was an online phone application that would have allowed users to synch all their phone numbers, dial over the Internet, send free texts, read voice messages, with more cool features you can catch here. Apple (or AT&T) saw the app as a threat and declined to offer it. On Friday the FCC said it would investigate Apple's seemingly arbitrary -- or cunningly business-savvy -- methods for approving apps for the iPhone.
Schonfeld is right to see the FCC investigation as more than the proximate cause of Schmidt's resignation -- it's a microcosm of Google's increasingly fraught relationship with Apple. It's not just Google's new phone, which obviously competes with the iPhone's market share directly, it's also the company's push into online software development, which it sees as the eventual replacement of operating systems like Microsoft Windows and Apple Leopard. In short, you've got two giants with wildly different and competing angles into the future of OS. Google sees the future of software existing in clouds, and online data-sharing, and Apple still sees it in cats -- or at least, cat-themed operating systems. Ultimately, the question isn't why Schmidt resigned from the Apple board but instead: Why did Steve Jobs let him stay for so long?