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Hardcore Apple Fans and Siege Mentality

Just got back from I/O and I run into a Twitter thread where +Farhad Manjoo John Gruber, et al are criticizing a strawman Larry's Q&A session where Larry talks about negativity in the tech press.

There's an  underlying current of siege mentality in the Apple blogger world, after years of teetering on the brink, Apple made a come back, but its hardcore users lived under a constant perceived threat by Microsoft, and Steve Jobs cultivated a cult like tribalist view of the community when it came to competing ecosystems as a defense, not unlike I think governments that whip up nationalist or patriotic fervor.

Now with Apple as the most successful company in the world, they still can't shake the amygdala urge to fight anyone in their space as an enemy.  Case in point, John Gruber refers to anyone who criticizes Apple in the slightest as a jackass, if you run a search restricted to DaringFireball for that keyword, the search results are ten pages long.

To a siege mentality, everything is zero sum. Steve Jobs once said: "We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won't let them. This "don't be evil" mantra is bullshit." Is this world, competition is about utterly destroying your enemy until they no longer exist, it's evil, and Google and Apple were somehow supposed to have an unspoken "gentleman's agreement" not to pursue each other's markets. I guess this also applies to Job's involvement with anti-poaching agreements in Silicon Valley, or the eBook price-fixing.

But Larry Page is right, competition need not be a zero sum game, especially in circumstances where the market is growing. Note that while iPhone and Android are brutally battling it out in the smartphone market, both Apple, Google, and Samsung have all be enjoying year over year increases in earnings and user base. Yes, Nokia and Blackberry lost out, but that's mostly because feature phones  as a category are dying, and iPhone class smartphones were launched by them too late.

Overall, as far as Apple vs Android, so far, it has been positive sum for the two biggest fighters in the ring. Apple's biggest problem at this point is not Android, but saturation and overly high expectations.

Gruber and others like to imagine that people who work at Google hate hate hate Apple products and want to destroy them, and that may be the mentality on the Apple side, but I don't know many Googlers who spend time trying to devise plans to destroy the iPhone, many of them quite like iPads and use MacBooks and would be sad to see Apple fold. As Larry said, much of the focus is on problem solving, not being concerned with "destroying" competitors like you'd read in internal Microsoft memos. The world has perhaps never seen a corporation with management and culture like Google before in this sector, they can't process it, and the cynic has to suspect it's all bullshit, all a show.

Speaking of solving problems and doing stuff that's never been done before, Gruber says: "Google is the company that built Android after the iPhone, Google Plus after Facebook, and now a subscription music service after Spotify. They entered the RSS reader market, wiped it out, and are now just walking away from it. Gmail? Webmail but better. Think about even web search: Google search wasn’t something new; it was something better. Way, way, way better, but still.

Consider maps. Google Maps entered a market where MapQuest and others had been around for years. That wasn’t something great that didn’t already exist. It was a better version of something that already existed. "

See the trick here? Google didn't do anything that was't done before. Gmail, Maps, Search, etc. Those are just refinements. But the iPhone? That's an entirely new thing from wholecloth. We won't say "the iPhone came after the Blackberry, after the Nokia Smartphones, after the PalmPhones", we'll just pretend they never existed. 

When does executing on something so radically better count as "never been done before"? Gmail and Maps were some of the first in a new class of Web 2.0 applications, a whole new class of interactivity for a web app. Do Google's datacenters counter as having never been done before? Co-loc points for hosting servers go back to the first boom, but to compare one of those with the way Google's Datacenters are engineered as just refining is completely ignoring the depth to which Google reinvented the datacenter.

For example, Google built online maps that had never been done before, at scale. If you look at the next-gen Google Maps for the Web, sure, there's been some toy webgl demos of 3D cities, but no one has completely re-engineered a Web based map the way the new Maps work, it's next-generation stuff far beyond what anyone else has done, and in my mind counts as solving problems  anew.

I for one am proud to be a googler because of things like the way Larry acquitted himself humbly, thoughtfully, and authnetically at I/O. I'm glad he doesn't engage in bitterness. Even if you think it's fake spin, it's still better than being an angry public jackass.
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Awesome writing by the way.

"See the trick here? Google didn't do anything that was't done before. Gmail, Maps, Search, etc. Those are just refinements. But the iPhone? That's an entirely new thing from wholecloth. We won't say "the iPhone came after the Blackberry, after the Nokia Smartphones, after the PalmPhones", we'll just pretend they never existed."
Hahahaha i moved from altavista (already great compared to others) to google as their search is better (and try bing once in a while)
I moved from hotmail to gmail 
etc etc

Google Now/the full integration is where the big (sometimes scary ;) stuff is. It fits like a nice glove not perfect but still very nice
Add the usual chorus, Marco Arment just posts the same thing. Predictable and sad.
I've also seen a number of articles very eager to highlight Page's so-called double standards for preaching cooperation on the same day YouTube sent Microsoft a cease and decist letter for their YouTube app on Win Phone. The fact that MS are breaching the T&Cs are not mentioned, or quietly mentioned as an afterthought.

Media, heh. 
+Tau-Mu Yi There's a difference between zero-sum against direct competitors, and zero-sum again other industries.

Ford, Chrysler, and GM all grew at the expense of the horse drawn carriage industry. So in one respect, people who ran carriages lost. But Ford's growth didn't the first half the last century did not necessarily have to come at the expense of other auto manufacturers.

Why? Because most people didn't own cars yet.

The context of Larry's quote is that there are 7 billion people, and less than half have smartphones. There are many many more customers left to divide between Apple and Android, such that both can continue to grow, even while being fiercely competitive.

If you use your definition, then the whole idea of progress becomes absurd, because invariably, the previous generation is disproportionately affected.

I prefer to look at it this way: The "us vs them" quote is about Apple vs Android, and on that basis, there is no zero sum yet, and the press is more interested in clickbait articles than realistic and sober analysis, no different than the hyperbole in the political arena which turns every issue into WWE Wrestling.

And that's sad.

I don't even think Larry would claim Google hadn't put anyone out of business with their products. That's a normal process of creative destruction, and it doesn't invalidate his point.
As monolithic as Apple has become, the integration between Google products is a lock in of it's own. I'd like to see more startups rise up and devastate the status quo with respect to the big 4-5 corporations of tech. Facebook had an opportunity but is more of the same.

Tesla'a something different, we'd be fortunate to see more companies like it. Tackling impossible challenges and changing industries.
Great post, +Ray Cromwell. Even beyond Apple and its fans I'm continually running into cynicism about Google. You're absolutely right when you say that the world has never seen a tech company like Google and so they just cannot believe it exists. They can't wrap their heads around the notion that when Larry Page talks about non-zero-sum competition and abundance and Google doing things to make billions of peoples' lives better it's not just a smoke screen.

He's really not lying, and he's really not just blowing sunshine to hide his real money-grubbing, market-driven evil plans to slurp and sell everyone's private data.  Further, Google's culture is not only fully supportive of his focus but would fight him hard if he were to try to take the company in the direction the cynics believe it must be going.

I understand that they've never seen a large tech corporation that behaves the way Google does, and that's what makes it hard for them to believe it, but the degree of nefarious duplicity that Google-haters have to believe in order to make their worldview work is amazing. Among other things, it would require being duplicitous not just to all of the outside world, but even to nearly all of the employees, many of whom are extraordinarily bright people and exceptionally hard to fool.

That's not to say Google isn't a for-profit company. It is. An aggressive and extremely successful one, but one that does not (presently, at least) subscribe to the short-term mentality that is the norm in corporate America. Google tries not to be evil because its leadership and its culture is non-evil, but even more because in the long run evil is not a successful business strategy.

One specific example: I often see people deriding all of Google's office perks (free food, on-site massages, sleep pods, fitness centers, etc.) as "just a way to exploit the employees by tricking them into spending all their time at work". The assumption is that it can't just be what it appears -- Google treats its people well because it believes that happy employees are more productive. Sure, some employees will choose to basically live at work. That's their choice. But most don't, and that's fine, too, because the strategy still works. It still helps to retain the best people and to keep them happy and minimize distractions. It's good business and good ethics.

But people are jaded and just can't quite believe that those two things can go together.
Ford built a model T, therefore the Tesla S is just a boring old rehash that shows no innovation at all.  

And self-driving cars?  Well, we've had human-driven cars for over a century, so clearly that's just another round of Google-come-lately!

Hah!  "First they criticize you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win...".  

Google has been the leader and role model for years, and I suppose that really rubs the trolls the wrong way.  "If only they would stop trying to do the right thing and just pursue the profit-at-any-cost status quo, then we could all screw the customers and nobody would bat an eye!"
Stop reading Gruber already! We don't need to be reminded of what they said. You can't fight tribalism with more tribalism.
+Brian Slesinsky It's not Gruber per se, Gruber's comments were picked up and echoed by a bunch of others, like KaraSwisher@AllThingsD, Manjoo@Slate, et al. I came to Gruber by reading reblogs and retweets, I generally don't read his blog directly anymore than I watch Fox news.
it is quite telling that all these pundits have very little tech experience. even the most techie, like this arment guy, only has some reader like app to his name. it is easy to be confused if you have never actually built something.
Shrug. Fair enough. If you think taking a platform from 0-38m users in three years is "very little tech experience" I really don't have much to say to you.
"A rising tide lifts all boats." Far too often, people miss the forest for the trees, here.
If someone express his point of view regarding your company that is different than yours, then he is an angry man and you need to public insult his credibility.


I wonder why a CEO does not speak about the product his company sells and provides more than 96% of the company revenue. An ads company should speak more about ads, don't you think? And there is nothing wrong with ads, btw.
"We won't say "the iPhone came after the Blackberry, after the Nokia Smartphones, after the PalmPhones", we'll just pretend they never existed."

I don't know which "we" you're referring to, but Jobs explicitly listed those and explained why he thought the iPhone was better at the iPhone launch.

There's a difference between acting like your products are the first in the market, and acting like yours are the first that don't suck. Apple does the latter. Even if you think they're wrong when they claim they're the best, I consider that sort of claim to be standard commercial puffery. I think it's different than claiming you enter new markets when it's obvious that you rarely do.
There's room for both companies, although sadly these days the "Apple vs Google" battle is less about who will amaze me and more about which company is annoying me the least with inane decisions/bugs.
I can understand writers bitching about each other's work, but this is just silly. You're clearly writing about another Gruber here. The GRRRRRUUUUUBERRRRR you so love to hate. The foaming, droid eating, MS snorting basturdddd you're making up all by yourself. Not the actual tech-blogger who's been writing rather clever pieces for 10 years now and still sells t-shirts.
Delighted that so many of Gruber's readers will sign up for G+ accounts in order to leave comments. ;-p
+Ray Cromwell Hey, I had a G+ account since about the time it launched, I think. And a Google Wave account. I used the Google Maps Javascript API in ~2005/6. And I think that you're misrepresenting Gruber's argument. 

Are there Apple fanboys who act like everything they do was the first? Yes. But Gruber was talking about what the CEOs of Apple and Google say about their respective companies. Jobs did not pretend that the iPhone's competitors didn't exist. 

When you write,
"We won't say "the iPhone came after the Blackberry, after the Nokia Smartphones, after the PalmPhones", we'll just pretend they never existed."

Who is the "we" you're referring to? Gruber frequently links to articles about how poorly Blackberry and Nokia are doing. He frequently links to articles about various metrics and statistics about Android vs. iOS. So clearly he isn't pretending that they never existed. Can't be Jobs that does that, given that his iPhone introduction included photos of those competitors on screen.

So, please, define the "we" that you believe is acting like that.
 Ford, Chrysler, and GM all grew at the expense of the horse drawn carriage industry.

Um, there were a lot more than US auto makers when the Department of War (as it was then known) came up with the specs for what we now know as the Jeep. 

On July 11, 1940, Army QMC specification for bid was released to 135 manufacturers! 

The big 3 grew at the expense of those 100+ others, as with Google's successes which were often based on existing ideas and targeted the same audiences. The ones that failed most likely didn't, for both segments. 
Gruber has it basically right. Google as an entity is a hypocrite. But what corporation isn't? What is silly is Google trying to pretend they aren't like other corporations. There's nothing wrong with competing and making a profit. By the way, this is the first time I've used my Google+ account in six months, maybe more. I signed up early on, gotta stay informed, etc. I try to avoid Google services whenever possible, maybe I'm too picky but except for search I find Google's services to be very mediocre. And Google's support is terrible, worst I've ever dealt with. I'm not sure Google would do all that well in a world where they had to attract users to paid services. They get by on half-assed but free.
Gruber and Cromwell are talking about entirely different things.

Many engineers at Google are coming up with original solutions to challenging technical problems and largely don't concern themselves with existing products that address the same needs (usually in a much-improvable manner). Hence +Ray Cromwell's "solving problems anew". 

On the other hand, from a business/marketplace standpoint, Google (and Apple) definitely do mostly enter existing categories, though with significantly better products. (After all, it's much easier to sell something when you know people already want it.) Which is what Gruber is talking about.

So the "We should be building great things that don’t exist." feels true to engineers, and is true for Google X, but to a rational external observer, it's clear that the overwhelming bulk of Google's (and Apple's) efforts end up being targeted "versus some other company".

96% of Google's revenues come from ads shown on web-products that have great underlying technological innovations, but did end up decimating (or assimilating) the competing products.

As +paul beard pointed out, the Big 3 automakers are the last ones standing out of a long battle in a field of over hundred. For +Larry Page to misdirect from the same thing happening in tech and painting Google to be above the fray is what's hypocritical.

I have no idea why pointing out this fact is a sign of siege mentality among "Apple fans".
+Ray Cromwell Great piece, the equation relating Gruber to Fox News is probably the most appropriate.
+Chinmay Soman Again, maybe I'm just fussy, but I wouldn't call Google Maps great. Maybe they have too many clown school graduates working on them.
+Ray Cromwell Everybody already has a Google+ account. Interesting stat: members versus users. 
+Chinmay Soman There's no hypocrisy in what Larry said which is the original topic. His message was about aspirations, intentions, and negativity in the press.

He did not say Google was "above the fray". He implied the press relentlessly views competition through a lens of negativity, and a lot of the tech media/blogosphere does, as a kind of blood sport to cheer for teams. 

He also said he doesn't find that interesting, and thinks Google should be building things that don't exist. The strawman is that somehow he said or implied that Google only does that.

Google is a large company with tens of thousands of restless engineers, who branch out in every direction, due to either passion or boredom. Sometimes they invent totally new things, sometimes they invent new ways of doing existing things better, cheaper, faster, or more efficiently. Gmail was a side project. So was Google Now.

That's Google culture. We know from internal Microsoft emails, that often competition and market domination ("Killing" competitors) was an actual goal. If Paul Buchheit killed other webmail competitors, it was collateral damage from scratching an itch.

How is this any different than the aspiration messages Apple puts out? Consider the This is Our Signature Campaign.  From a quote Gruber's own Blog of Darby Lines:

"In my opinion this has been, from the return of Steve Jobs at least, the singular goal of Apple. Not to make all the moneys, not to dominate markets, not to impress bloggers but simply to make products that enhance our lives."

Above the Fray much? If I were to be as cynical as the critics of Larry Page: Such noble creatures, who care not a whiff for the dollar, or to dominate, but simply to make stuff for the good of everyone. That sure does explain all the lawsuits.

Apple's statement is a statement of their aspiration, their intent, of why they do things.  Apple wants to make perfect objects of design, and Google wants to land on the moon.

There is no hypocrisy in those aspirations.
I think even Gruber would say that bad mouthing Google Maps is jackassery. It's akin to saying the iPhone is a POS design, both products are universally acknowledged to currently be at the top of the class, and obsessively negative statements are usually trolling and disingenuous.
I think you should stop to try and capture the essence of a company in a oneliner and extrapolate from that. That's bad science, bad reasoning and most of the times extremely self-serving. I can see the emotional appeal of attacking other opinion makers based on just that. In the end, you should be able to say "aren't we silly?" Or if you like: you invested too much time hacking at a person instead of building your argument. Like mr. map janitor, shouting "clowns clowns".
"Consider the industry landscape today. Apple just announced iOS 7; it adds support at the system level for Flickr and Vimeo (in addition to Facebook and Twitter, which came last year). iOS 7 gets weather, sports, and financial news from Yahoo. Siri now integrates with Bing — Microsoft! — for web and image search results. Who are Google’s allies and partners? What services does Android or Chrome OS include at the system level except Google’s own?"

Erm, any app you install can be integrated to that level on Android! Has he never seen the Android share menu?
Google Maps is a good comparison. But MapQuest wasn't really a thing to compare with Facebook, iPhone etc. Overly expectations are quite over and users are mature now, they now learn the limitations in bringing new design and beauty of iOS devices. Apple certainly has to enter in another category of life changing devices to move the industry again. Mobile market is still not saturated and the fight will go on as long they can encash their investments.
+Ray Cromwell I've had a fair bit of trouble with Google Maps, driving times are often wrong, poor suggested routes, street view is clunky, and I'm continually disappointed in the look and feel of it. It's a good product but it's not something I look at and think 'wow'. The iPhone, iPad, iMac, and a lot of great iOS and Mac software, does make me think 'wow'. I think the difference is sweating the details and caring about not only how a thing works but how it looks, the whole experience. Google has a lot of work to do on merging form and function. If I was Google I would be concerned that Apple was able to put together its own Maps app in a comparatively short time. Cue the Maps jokes, but the truth is Maps didn't suck. In my area Apple Maps is more accurate actually.
I feel it is meaningless to argue who is a good and who is evil. The point is what is Google? The way Google tries to survive is following good ideas appear in the market and get it. Likes in a classroom, Google will be the kid always try to get the best toy. Its root motivation is not start from how to rich people's life. They always look around, if anyone around them has a good idea, they will get it. That's how they survive. If you want to be a friend of this kind of person, you need to be very careful because they will get your thing if they like them. I still remember when Eric showed up on iPhone's announcement, his face shows jealous. He said, "This product will be hot", you can tell he really wanted it too. It is just dangerous to be friend of Google. That's the company's personality. 
Google is an aggressive corporation with its goal to grow, make profits and dominate the market sectors in which it competes. Apple is an aggressive corporation with its goal to grow, make profits and dominate the market sectors in which it competes. Everything else is just decoration.
regarding the "eBook price-fixing", in case you didn't know... according to testimonies heard, all the publishers did talked to each on Apple's offer but without the knowledge of Apple. The agency model was already offer to book publisher by Barnes and Noble before Apple enter into the picture without Apple's knowledge. Publisher is losing money to help Amazon sell Kindle devices because Amazon is THE monopoly. The email by Steve Jobs was a draft, never send to publishers, and the final email did send are totally different. DoJ just cherry pick quotes and emails to help their case. The judge changed the tone on Apple, from harsh before the trail began to a much softer tone now.

The case is not over yet, everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Developers selling apps for Android, Windows 7 phone, iPhone are both under agency model. Is Google, Microsoft and Apple also in the price fixing game together for mobile apps?
Hmmm... not that I expect this discussion to be different from any other discussions (online or off) in terms of its ability to change minds (would it be too wrong to suggest that this discussion has already been Godwin'ed by equating Gruber to Fox News, commenters with clowns, Google with bullies and yes, hypocrites?) but I suppose I can't resist replying.

Let me address what I see as three separate issues here - (1) Narratives in press coverage; (2) Google's (or perhaps more accurately, Larry's) opinions of the press coverage (which is at the eye of the storm in this particular teacup); and (3) comparison with Apple's behavior (though personally I don't see it as being directly related to the issue at hand.)

1) Yes, the press always looks at individual events and tries to cast them into a larger narrative arc. A very common arc is: Scrappy/struggling underdog  -> David vs. Goliath -> Underdog wins --> Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Larry seems to have discovered recently (or perhaps it crossed some thresh-hold) that Google is now seen as the new boss. This has happened to Microsoft, Apple and now is apparently happening to Google too. 

This narrative sells because it's easy to understand, we identify with it, and we like hearing the story over and over again (nobody ever really grows up...)

It's great being in the first part of the trajectory, but not so much the last. Welcome to the club. Deal with it. (More on this in the Apple section.)

2) What seems to have ticked some people off - these people happening to be Apple bloggers of some note and notoriety - is the weird juxtaposition of some of the press coverage of current events against Google's (and indeed, the entire tech industry's) ideals and aspiration.

Larry reportedly said - 
"Every story I read about Google is “us versus some other company” or some stupid thing, and I just don’t find that very interesting. We should be building great things that don’t exist. Being negative isn’t how we make progress. Most important things are not zero sum, there is a lot of opportunity out there."

So it's stupid and uninteresting and negative for the press to cover any of the "collateral damage from scratching an itch" that Google causes? I can see that the aspirational part is directed at devs saying "don't pay attention to the negative coverage, do your own awesome thing", but to outsiders, it also implies "the press is being mean to us... don't they know we want to do awesome things? we shouldn't be talked about in the same breath as all these other tech companies" (Hence my "above the fray" interpretation).

In fact, I see overwhelmingly positive coverage of the self-driving car, Fiber, the new balloon internet etc (Didn't know about the moon-landing goal. Did you just give away a secret part of the Lunar X-Prize? ;-) ). A lot of people are puzzled about Pixelbook - Google also seems to be putting it out there for experimentation - and there is understandable concern about the privacy implications of Glass in the non-nerd population - and the Glass team is also clear about this being a socially challenging project. (Disregarding the weird "emasculating" comment for now...)

(I personally can't wait till self-driving cars are available to the public. I think it's great that Google is funding this R&D, and I can certainly see myself getting Glass when it's out of dev beta...)

As for the negative coverage, as I said, it comes with the territory. You have to take into stride the reactions to business decisions that hurt competitors (and indeed, consumers -

Obviously, it's not the job of the press to put a positive spin on everything. In fact, given the average news-readers' preference for emotionally charged "news", it's perhaps surprising it's not more negative.

In short, Larry's statement was probably just an unfortunately expressed sentiment, but a Billionaire CEO's words are taken far more seriously than a mere mortal's. (The "If you're richest, why aren't you the smartest?" fallacy, if you will.)

Google is charging ahead doing the best it can do, and damn the consequences. Sure, that's great! I look forward (with some trepidation abut product cancellations) to more from Google.

What people don't like is being a cause of these consequences and also crying foul (publicly) when others point out the consequences. Just makes you look like a sore winner. Who likes those?

3) I'm not sure where you get the idea that Apple wants to be seen as above the fray. From "Welcome, IBM", to "1984", to "c:\ongrtlns.w95" to "Mac vs. PC" to comparison of market and usage statistics at every single press conference, Apple has always enjoyed fighting dirty, kicking ass, taking names, and gloating about its successes. The problem was, in the early days, they were good at taking names, but sucked at kicking ass! :D

(Check out this real insider's history of the PC wars for details -

Apple has always wanted to make the best products in order to get the best - i.e. most profitable - customers, it just took them a while to get good at it. The post-exile Steve, with experience from Next and Pixar and invaluable help from Tim and Jony, made Apple much better at delivering on the lofty visions and promises.

The "Signature" campaign and "make products that enhance our lives" isn't some aspirational marketing bullshit message that seeks to obscure their nefarious goal of owning the world. On the contrary, it states, I believe, and I believe most of them believe, the real mission of the company as it always has been. (Another company I admire has the ridiculously audacious goal of "...organize the world's information...").

Owning the world (well, a smallish chunk of it, anyway) is just the collateral benefit of successful progress in the mission.

Do they have no concern for profits and just want to make beautiful products? No, I don't think anyone has accused Apple of being morons. (We'll excuse the Cube and the iPod Hi-Fi :p)

Furthermore, in my opinion, the Signature campaign also continues the taking-names tradition, if a little more subtly (as the king-of-the-hill-for-now they know it looks petty if they are any more obvious), with an FU to all the people clamoring for new new new more more more from Apple and declaring the company dead when it fails to fulfill everyone's wishes. There's a definite "This is how we do things. If you don't like it, you can very well fuck off." message in there for so-called "tech-pundits", Wall Street analysts and even your average internet commenter - Apple consumer or not. Not that most will get this message... 

In addition, the campaign points out the clear contrast with companies like Samsung that will throw everything they can conceive into the market in the hope that something sells somewhere.

It's obviously not the only way to be successful, but it's Apple's way, and it has always been so. Some cars are Audi, some are Kia... So it goes...

Finally, since we are comparing, as for responses from Apple management to negative portrayal and perception (See: Business Insider, Forbes, the stock market........) as far as I can recall, there have been three instances of the management commenting, two of them involving only the stock price -

In 2008, when the stock was crashed to 130 from 200, Steve sent a companywide email telling employees to "hang in there" and that factors "larger than ourselves" were responsible for the tumble. (The shares then went down to 80, IIRC.)

In Feb 2013, Tim Cook commented on the recent stock tumble at the annual investor meeting - "I don't like it either,... Neither does the board or management … but we're focused on the long term."

At WWDC 2013, Phil Shiller said "Can't innovate anymore my ass."

Oh, also, Steve once called Joe Nocerra, the NYTimes reporter, "a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong". Directly to him, on the phone. I think that's pretty funny.

I suppose Apple management have a much easier job of keeping their mouth shut because the Macalope does an excellent job of tearing apart the most idiotic statements about Apple. :D

I'm sure that with experience Larry (and hopefully also the rest of us) will get better at being more humorously controversial as well as shrugging off the stupid and uninteresting negativity.

That is all. Back to work now... Let's all make great stuff.
That's quite a large response, I'm on a vacation with limited connectivity right now and can't respond to all of it, but I think this quote from you sums up the differences: "Apple has always enjoyed fighting dirty,"

I think this is the biggest difference between Apple and Google, or between Larry and Steve. It makes Apple look more like Microsoft. "Thermonuclear War", negative comments on competitors "no taste, no class". How many times have you seen Larry or Eric Schmidt directly badmouth a competitor this way?

Google rarely if ever goes negative. Look at every Google commercial or print campaign, and compare them with Apple or Microsoft. With the exception of Vic Gundotra's 2010 Keynote, or some snark here and there, Google has rarely directly attacked other companies, even as others play dirty in the courts, with regulators and astroturfed 501cs, and negative advertising ("Redmond, Start Your Copiers!", WWDC MS-attack videos, the I'm a Mac/PC commercials). And on the MS side, the Scroogled crap, "Bing It On", patent trolling. etc

Even before I joined Google, I perceived nastiness in Apple and Microsoft which turned me off as places I'd want to work.

You're trying to draw some equivalences, to say both companies are a like in behavior, but I think this is false, and that's the crux of the matter. Besides the negative campaigning, the court room trolling, there were also attempts to control the media by punitively punishing journalists who write negative stories (even the NYT). On the other hand, Google continues to send review hardware to people like MG Siegler who in the past trashed and trolled the company in his articles (yes, he is now at Google Ventures)

I perceive distinct differences in the way the two companies operate: one, secretive, closed, lacking transparency, offensively litigious, overtly aggressive, punitive towards enemies, and  resorts to negative advertising.

Google is not trying to seem "above it all", in the sense that it is not claiming it never competes with anyone. What it is saying is that competition is not always zero sum, and that competition itself is natural, not evil, and doesn't have to be about negativity. And they have "practice what they've preached" by avoiding some of the worst impulses -- retaliation, rather as Larry said, they opt to try and improve products as the best kind of retaliation.

And that is a benefit to end users. 
Someone who is honest and blunt is better than someone who stab you in the back while smiling.

When you bring up WWDC MS-Attack. May I remind you this slide from Google I/O 2010 and the shots aimed at Apple during the event:

And competition itself is natural, not evil... how about this event in Africa last year?

In case you are not aware, Apple hasn't run any negative advertising for a very long time. Nowadays is all Samsung doing the negative ads.
+Talos Tsui That's a poor excuse for justifying ungentlemanly conduct in an argument.

I already cited Vic Gundotra's 2010 keynote, did you actually read my response? It's one of the few "direct" criticisms of Apple  by Google, and it didn't even mention Apple by name, it merely used "1984" style imagery of a distopian future ruled by a closed ecosystem. 

At Apple's last WWDC this year, Tim Cook himself spent 10 minutes on stage, attacking Android by name with slides. Phil Schiller gave interviews in the press directly attacking Android. In fact, it was so direct and out of character, Apple bloggers themselves thought it went too far.

But my biggest beefs with Apple are not the ads or the verbal attacks, but the abuses of the patent system, again, a "siege mentality" holdover from the days of the WIndows 95 Look and Feel lawsuit when Steve lost attempting to use Copyright law to have the government restrain Microsoft.
Hey +Ray Cromwell, I'm glad you've found a place to work where you fit in with the culture.

I don't think Google and Apple are equivalent... I see some similarities and many major differences.

I can rehash the whole history and business models of Apple and Google, and hypothesize how these factors influence why they do what they do as well as how these actions are perceived and understood on the outside. (this is mostly what I did in my previous post too). This doesn't justify everything on either side, but helps one put the complex scenarios in context.

But all of this is quite irrelevant, because you've already decided what's right and what's wrong.

And that totally fine.

So carry on... make that Javascript go faster!

(Also, may I suggest that you'd be better off actually enjoying your vacation than getting bothered by people on the internet? I totally understand the impulse of course, but still... :D)
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