Apple and Google are colliding into each other on a daily basis.
In September we wrote about the brewing war between the two companies. Since then, things have only gotten more heated.
This weekend we learned more details about Google’s phone, the Nexus One, due this January.
Add up all these battles, and 2010 looks to be a year of increased hostility between the two companies.
These new skirmishes follow years of enjoying one of the coziest relationships in Silicon Valley — one that will now get more complicated as the companies compete in more areas.
Neither company is each other’s biggest rival. Both are probably still most interested in disrupting Microsoft, which is one of the reasons they became so close earlier this decade. Pretty much every area where Google is competing with Apple, it’s competing even stronger with Microsoft.
But it’s impossible for Apple to escape the crossfire.
Google gave out its own phone to employees as test units last Friday. The company will sell them direct to consumers starting in 2010, according to various reports.
Meanwhile, Apple has its iPhone. The phone has been a solid seller, its app platform is growing, and it's yet to be knocked from its perch.
Will Google's phone -- which is supposed to be an iPhone on steroids -- finally topple the iPhone?
As both companies start stomping on each other's turf, they'll be battling for the same startups.
It started with AdMob, which Google bought for $750 million. It continued with Lala, which Apple grabbed for $85 million. We don't know who's next, but it's a good sign for startups in Silicon Valley.
Google's Android platform is one of the most threatening to Apple's iPhone.
In part, it's because it's a powerful software package. But in part, because Google has decided to give it away for free to any mobile phone vendor who wants to use it. So in a way, Google is organising many gadget makers -- HTC, Motorola, LG, Sony Ericsson, etc. -- to battle with Apple, not just one.
Google and Apple both want to convince developers to invest in their mobile platforms, which use different languages and are incompatible. (So far, Apple is winning by far.)
But Google is taking the approach of 'openness' -- allowing any app into the store -- while Apple has kept a tighter lid on its platform. This has led to recent direct conflict among the companies, as Apple has kept two Google apps off the iPhone: Its Latitude social networking service, and its Google Voice phone service.
This forced an embarrassing FCC investigation -- a fiasco that likely added stress to the companies' relationship.
OS X is one of Apple's most important assets: It's the software basis for the Mac, iPhone, and iPod touch, which are Apple's three most important hardware products.
And now Google is moving to directly compete with OS X via Chrome OS, a lightweight operating system for Web-focused computers.
Initially, Chrome OS will power cheap netbook laptops, which Apple doesn't currently offer. But eventually, it could power laptop and desktop computers -- which compete directly with Apple's Macs.
Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari are both based on the same guts, 'Webkit.' But most people only use one Web browser at a time, and that means that Google will be directly competing with Apple here -- especially once Chrome is out for the Mac.
Why does Apple care which Web browser its customers pick? Beyond keeping some control over its users, Apple also gets some revenue -- from Google, of all places -- when Safari users search with Google. They won't get that revenue when Mac users search with Chrome.
Google needs to figure out how to make money from YouTube, and it looks like maximizing professional content on the site -- and not so much dogs on skateboards -- will be a help.
So Google is now working on a video rental service, which will compete directly with Apple's iTunes.
Potential consequences: Apple may be less willing to integrate YouTube into its products, such as its Apple TV set-top box, iPhone and iPod touch, and iMovie software.
Google Docs, Google's Web-based office apps suite, is mostly designed to disrupt Microsoft's Office cash cow.
But Apple has one of those Office rivals, too: iWork, its suite of word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software.
This business isn't crucial to Apple. But its software products are some of its most profitable-per-dollar revenue sources. So it's certainly in no hurry to see its customers run away for free Google Docs.
For $100 a year, Apple's MobileMe offers email, photo and Web hosting space, calendar syncing, and more. But Google's Gmail, Google Calendar, Picasa, and other free products offer most of the same features for free.
And if Google is lucky, someone who heavily relies on Google services might consider buying a Google Android phone -- which has better built-in support for Google's mail and calendar services -- than an iPhone.