Google + Apple: Video, iTunes and a Whole Lotta "Cool"

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The news yesterday that Google CEO Eric Schmidt is joining the board at Apple set off a maelstrom of media commentary about how the two firms could join to mount a challenge to Microsoft.


One of the most informative pieces we've seen is a rundown at BusinessWeek of the cross-pollination between Google and other tech firms (Intel and Intuit make the list, too). So, it's not unheard of that an officer from one high-tech firm would sit on another company's board.


The BusinessWeek writer recites what he sees as the inherent synergies between Apple and Google -- best we can tell, the number-one thing they have in common is that they are "cool." Certainly, Google to date has made no special efforts to make its apps and services play nice with the small minority of Mac users out there.


However, often your best partner is a company that is good at your weaknesses. Apple faces a new challenge from Microsoft in the digital media space; maybe Google can provide some strategic thinking there, opines the BusinessWeek writer.


(Most predictions we've seen about a Google/Apple marriage revolve around video and audio, with Google driving traffic to iTunes or creating a Google-preferred wireless iPod to go after BlackBerry. So much for Net Neutrality.)


Most plausible is tight integration between Apple's .Mac online services and Google's collaboration apps, which are free and ultimately can generate a ton of advertising revenue. Gmail and Google Talk could be instant winners when combined with Apple's house apps, and Writely may make the most sense for Apple users who buy MS Office mostly for Word. (Apple is the only computer company we know of that overtly makes fun of people who use spreadsheets.)


We'd agree that the best opportunity for an Apple/Google tandem is in the consumer space (the BusinessWeek writer actually mentions the iPod halo effect), where "cool" can actually make you a lot of money.


And ultimately, consumer-endorsed technology does tend to make its way into the enterprise.