Eric Schmidt & Apple Trade Tweaks on Google Now for iOS

Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Apple have been tweaking each other over Google Now for iOS. In an interview, Mr. Schmidt suggested—but did not actually say—that Apple was in way keeping Google Now from being released on iOS, but Apple made the rare move of denying in public that Google had even submitted the app for App Store approval.

The curious case of coded comments started Thursday morning with Mr. Schmidt. At the Big Tent Summit taking place in India, the Googler was asked when the company's excellent Google Now would be coming to iOS.

“You’ll need to discuss that with Apple," Mr. Schmidt said, according to TechCrunch. “Apple has a policy of approving or disapproving apps that are submitted into its store, and some of them they approve and some of them they don’t.”

That's a fairly straight forward accusation. "You'll need to discuss that with Apple" does not directly say that Apple is holding up the app, but come on.

Eric Schmidt is a master wordsmith. Watching him speak and choose his words is like watching a Steve Jobs keynote through a silk veil at the tail end of a hallucinogenic trip*. Mr. Schmidt isn't charismatic like the late Steve Jobs was, and he doesn't have a reality distortion field, but he uses words to manipulate us every bit as much as Steve Jobs did with his presentations.

Eric Schmidt

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt
Original picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This time it's extra curious, however. Mr. Schmidt tells us that Apple is holding up Google Now for iOS (again, without actually saying so), but Apple said that this wasn't actually the case. In fact, Apple said that Google Now has never been submitted to the App Store for approval.

On Thursday afternoon, Apple PR told TechCrunch that Google hasn't submitted app and that Google Now isn't in the approval queue.

So what gives? Did Mr. Schmidt misspeak? Don't count on it. Eric Schmidt does not misspeak He says precisely what he wants to say when he wants to say it. Perhaps he was misinformed? That's certainly possible, but I don't believe it for a second.

I think a more likely answer is that Google wanted to exert a little public pressure on Apple ahead of the app's submission. I think Mr. Schmidt thought he could count on Apple's usual policy of not commenting on much of anything.

It's the same tactic Google employed ahead of the Google Maps submission to the App Store in the fall of 2012. The company let it be known that it submitted the app in September, and then in November let it be known it was still working on the app for submission later in the year, and besides, Apple wasn't going to approve it anyway.

In the end, it turned out the app was approved without much fuss in December, casting doubt in my mind of the original leaks about internal doubts on approval.

And here we are again. Mr. Schmidt is telling us to talk to Apple if we want Google Now for iOS (in case it's not clear, I think Google Now is pretty nifty), but his company hasn't even submitted it.

It sort of reminds me of the old adage, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." In the end, it seems a waste of time playing this kind of game. Submit the app. If Apple actually rejects it, tell the world. If it gets accepted, giddy up. That's more data for Google to collect, slice, dice, and sell.

*I only assume. I've never done hallucinogenics.