Corporate Eye

Apple and Google – Friends or Foes?

iphone_droidThere was a time, not that long ago, when Apple and Google could nearly be called friends.  In a recent article on Ad Age, Danny Sullivan describes the partnerships the two companies shared, and it’s an interesting read.  However, it looks like things are changing.  Google launched the Droid, which competes with Apple’s iPhone.  Google launched it’s own Internet browser, Chrome.  Apple already had Safari.  Google is the preferred search engine for both Safari and the iPhone.  Or at least, Google was.

What’s next for the Apple and Google relationship?

Well, Google recently launched its own social network, Google Buzz (available through Gmail, Google’s email application), and rumor has it, Apple is hoping to launch its own social network, iGroups, through the iPhone.

What strikes me as particularly interesting when looking at these two brands is the disparate brand promises.  Google promises first and foremost, the best search tool, and secondarily, a Web application or tool for everything you can image.  True, Google isn’t there yet, but the company certainly seems to be moving in that direction.

On the other hand, Apple promises first and foremost, cool technology and gadgets, and secondarily … well, I can’t really think what Apple promises secondarily.  Regardless, these two companies offer very different brand promises, but with the desire to expand their brands, they’re encroaching on each other’s territory.

And looming in the background trying to expand and steal market share of its own is Microsoft whose successful launch of its Bing search engine has drawn some attention back to the company that seemed to be missing the boat for a long time.  Microsoft’s brand promise of delivering the software people need to do their jobs must seem too constraining these days.

In fact, the current environment between these companies seems to foster brand expansion, while most other industries are realizing the benefits of brand contraction and focus.  This is an interesting competition to watch.  Who will end up on top?  Will one company take the lead or will the varied players each remain with their own niches of strength?  One would expect the latter to hold true, but you never know with these three companies.  What you expect to happen might not happen at all.

One thing is for certain.  As Google, Apple, and Microsoft battle it out and redefine their brand promises in keeping with coming expansions, consumers are getting access to more useful and cool products faster than ever.

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.