"The moral of the story is that Steve Jobs is not someone you want to depend on for your livelihood... I'll bet that in one of those Apple board meetings that Google CEO [Eric] Schmidt used to attend, he realized that Jobs was on the verge of building AppleWorld and he's been scared ever since." Concerned, sure--but is almighty Google "scared" of anything?
That opening quotation comes from a zealous Apple investor and money manager Jason Schwarz, who holds a long position on Apple and therefore is not exactly an unbiased source. But I've read a lot of Schwarz's analyses in the past year (you can find many of them here) and while he can sometimes be more cranked-up than a Jolt-chugging and deadline-stressed programmer, he also offers some unique and compelling perspectives on Apple and its singular CEO.
Here are the two full opening paragraphs from his blog entry yesterday on SeekingAlpha.com in which he lays out his theory for why Google is, indeed, scared:
"Steve Jobs is walking the same path as Walt Disney," writes Schwarz. "As soon as California's Disneyland was completed, Walt knew he had made a terrible mistake by not securing the surrounding real estate. He had built this wonderful destination but his oversight allowed hotel chains and restaurants to come in and make more money off his customers than he did. So Walt immediately went to Orlando, FL and built Disneyworld the right way.
"The moral of the story is that Steve Jobs is not someone you want to depend on for your livelihood. His goal is to build a closed digital neighborhood where Apple controls who makes money and who doesn't. I'll bet that in one of those Apple board meetings that Google CEO Steve [Eric] Schmidt used to attend, he realized that Jobs was on the verge of building AppleWorld and he's been scared ever since."
Now, as I said, Schwarz has a big dog in this fight via his investments in Apple. But the DisneyWorld metaphor was intriguing enough that I wanted to share it, particularly as it relates to the oncoming explosion of mobile computing that Schwarz says lies at the heart of Jobs' desire to build AppleWorld. As Schwarz puts it:
"Apple quickly realized that apps would one day overtake .coms. They knew that mobile devices would overtake PCs. And last but not least, they knew that they had a two year head start to completely control this mobile community. This did not sit well with Eric Schmidt."
Will the mobile phenomenon be powerful enough to rattle companies of the size and significance of Google? Can Steve Jobs--or any tech CEO in these days of the primacy of openness--create a business ecosystem in which that CEO determines who makes money and who doesn't? Can such a narrow construct survive in these days of near-unlimited choice?
The significance of this for CIOs, of course, is the inexorable move toward more mobile devices and more mobile applications, and along with that the remarkable rise of the iPhone and the AppStore as the richly connected and fully capable device of choice for professionals.
In that context, if Steve Jobs is able to build the AppleWorld of Schwarz's imagination, and if Jobs is able to dictate who's in and who's out, then Google might very well have good cause to be concerned. And maybe even a little scared.
Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.
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