Google Exec Softens Stance on Apple

Google’s vice president of Engineering at Google, Vic Gundotra, softened his stance on Apple when asked to clarify comments he made during a speech to developers last Thursday. In an interview with Evelyn Rusli at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference, Mr. Gundotra said that Google has a “deep respect” for Apple as a competitor.

In the speech at Google’s I/O developer conference last Thursday, however, Mr. Gundotra took a much more aggressive stance when he said that his company had created Android OS to keep Apple from dominating the mobile devices market.

“If we did not act, we faced a draconian future where one man, one phone, one carrier was the future. That’s a future we don’t want,” Mr. Gundotra said.

In the transcript from his interview today with Ms. Rusli, Mr. Gundotra said the comments about Apple were made “in the spirit of good fun,” and that Google respected the innovation that Apple has brought to market.

The following exchange takes place starting at the 5:33 mark in the interview:

Ms. Rusli: What a lot of people were talking about is Apple vs. Google. Why do you think that message was articulated in that way? How do you describe your relationship to Apple? Was it your idea to put in that many jabs (laughs)?”

Mr. Gundotra: Well, it was my speech, so I have to take responsibility. And it wasn’t necessarily jabs at Apple. We have a deep respect for the innovation they’ve brought. In the places where Android has gone further, we’re very excited to show those off. We’re very proud of Android.

And I think in the end, consumers really benefit from healthy, intense competition. That leads all companies to elevate their game, and it was done in the spirit of good fun.

Ms. Rusli: So it was more in good fun than actual slights or jabs? You say they weren’t jabs, but they were. You were obviously being very clear [in that] Apple is closed and Google is open. I think that was a message that everyone took away.

Mr. Gundotra: Well, we do like to draw sharp distinctions between our various approaches, but let’s be clear: We’re two competitors competing for the hearts and minds of developers, and we’re trying to have some fun while we do that.

Ms. Rusli: Do you think Apple will become more open? Obviously you work at Google, but do you think that’s inevitable because there has been this backlash, or do you see that backlash as somewhat fizzling out in the developer community?

Mr. Gundotra: You know, I can’t predict what Apple will do. As I said, we have deep respect for them as a competitor. They got that way because they tend to listen to feedback, and I full expect Apple to adjust to market dynamics.

The rest of the interview talks most about Google’s own recent announcements and where Mr. Gundotra and Google think the tech world is headed.

TechCrunch: Disrupt video

Thanks to Electronista for the heads up on the interview.