Tidbits from the Dogfight: “I Thought We Were Friends”

  • November 17, 2013

Here are tidbits from Fred Vogelstein’s superb book – Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution. These tidbits were taken from the chapter – “I Though We Were Friends,” which provides an in-depth account of how Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs felt about Android in it’s early days.

According to Vogelstein, the two companies were closely intertwined in the early days with few envisioning the strained relationship that exists today.

Fred Vogelstein:

Jobs had a convincing list of reasons to believe Google’s explanations [of Android]. The two companies’ boards of directors and outside advisers were so intertwined they were nearly the same company. Bill Campbell, a longtime Apple board member and one of Jobs’s best friends, was one of Schmidt’s, Brin’s, and Page’s closest advisers. Al Gore, the former vice president of the United States, was an adviser to Google and an Apple board member. Paul Otellini, then the CEO of Intel, was a Google board member but counted Apple as one of Intel’s newest large customers. And Arthur Levinson, the then head of Genentech, was a board member of both companies

Fred Vogelstein also pointed out that Steve Jobs had a very close relationship with the Google founders Brin and Page:

Jobs thought Brin and Page were his friends. Jobs had been their mentor for years, and the three of them were often seen on walks around Palo Alto on weekends or on Apple’s campus during the week. Their friendship had started all the way back in 2000, when Google was still a start-up and its financial backers were pressuring Page and Brin to find a CEO with more seasoning than they had. Brin and Page had said the only person they would consider was Jobs.[ …] Jobs was impressed with what was clearly the next generation of the Silicon Valley elite and was flattered to advise them. “Jobs told me that when he called them [Brin and Page], they just kept downplaying Android,” one of his executives said to him. “He basically said to me, ‘I believe in my relationships with these guys that they’re telling me the truth about what is going on.”

As a result, Steve was reportedly caught off guard by Google’s ambitions for Android. More importantly, he was not impressed by its similarity to his company’s iPhone operating system.

According to Vogelstein:

Steve Jobs felt completely blindsided by the Android announcements, and he was furious. He had known about Android for a while. But he hadn’t taken it seriously, according to those who’d talked with him about it. When he saw Horowitz show off the Dream phone in the Google video, however, he exploded with rage. Now he wondered if his partner was building something to challenge the iPhone. “I’m in my car driving somewhere and the phone rings. It’s Steve. He was screaming so loud I had to pull off to the side of the road,” said someone who talked to him that day. “‘Did you see the video?’ Steve says. ‘Everything is a f**king rip-off of what we are doing.””

No one at Google will talk about the meeting on the record, but off the record they continue to express puzzlement over Jobs’s position. They believe that there are very few firsts in Silicon Valley—that all innovations are built on the shoulders of others.


But Google’s evidence had zero impact on Jobs. “Steve was always of the opinion that Apple invented everything,” said one Google executive involved in the conversations. “And even when you showed him, ‘Here, this wasn’t invented by you,’ he still believes it was. No matter whether you could show him, ‘Look at all the places where multitouch was used before, or all these places where scrolling using your fingers was done before, or expansion of things [with your fingers] was done before,’ that didn’t sway Steve.”

Image Credit: DigitalJournal

Posted by | Posted at November 17, 2013 20:25 | Tags: , , ,
Storm is a technology enthusiast, who resides in the UK. He enjoys reading and writing about technology.

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