In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Google CEO Larry Page opens up about the company's competition, and Apple in particular — claiming that "the Android differences were actually for show," despite Apple's litigious fury and accounts of Steve Jobs' personal mission "to destroy Android." He claims that the firestorm over Android "served their interests" and that "for a lot of companies, it's useful for them to feel like they have an obvious competitor and to rally around that." He also deflects the notion that he was in a personal battle with Jobs, noting that "I had a relationship with Steve," and that Jobs actually requested the meeting with Page before his death. Page says that "we had a very nice talk... we always did when we had a discussion generally," and that "I took it as an honor that he wanted to spend some time with me." But the Google CEO doesn't pull punches elsewhere.
In the interview, Page laments the unproductive competitiveness in the technology industry, observing that "the general trend of the industry toward being a lot more litigious... has been a sad thing," and that there's money being spent on lawyers that could instead be spent on building products. He jabs at the competition, saying that "I think companies usually get into that when they're toward the end of their life cycle or they don't have confidence in their abilities to compete naturally." And while he doesn't call the company out for excessive legal meddling, Page cites Facebook as an example of "the tendency of the internet to move into a well-guarded state." He says that "our friends at Facebook have imported many, many, many Gmail addresses and exported zero addresses" — "and they claim that users don't own that data, which is a totally specious claim."
"One day you can import all of your Gmail contacts into Facebook and the next day try to export those out and they would not let you do that. It's clearly for competitive reasons."
While Google seems to be paying very close attention to its competitors — one need only look at its aggressive roll-out of Google+ and service unification — Page seems to think that Google stands apart. He says that "I personally believe that it's better to shoot higher. You don't want to be looking at your competitors. You want to be looking at what's possible and how to make the world better." Google may not want to look at its competitors, but by Page's own admission, it will need their data to get where it's going.