In the Steve Jobs-approved biography by Walter Isaacson, the Apple founder and CEO is seen railing against Google’s Android toward the end of his life.
Insisting that Google stole its look and feel from the iPhone’s iOS, Jobs vowed to declare ‘thermonuclear war’ on Android.
However, Google CEO Larry Page has tried to play down that comment. In an interview with Bloomberg’s Businessweek released on Wednesday, Larry Page said he thought Jobs’s attacks were ‘for show,’ adding that “for a lot of companies, it’s useful for them to feel like they have an obvious competitor and to rally around 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,” he added.
But Walter Isaacson has fired back. In a Q&A session following his lecture at the historic Royal Institute in London, the biographer and former TIME editor said that Steve’s anger at Google was real, and he explained why Steve wanted to go to war against Android.
The UK’s Apple-related website Macworld reports that Isaacson compared Steve’s spat with Google to that he had with Microsoft in the 1980s, after the Redmond-based company stole the Mac’s graphical user interface.
What really infuriated Jobs was not only did Microsoft take Apple’s GUI, Isaacson said, but it then licensed the interface “promiscuously” to the likes of Dell, Compac, IBM, and others.
As a result, “Microsoft ended up being dominant.” Almost exactly the same thing happened when Google ripped off the iPhone and its iOS software.
Isaacson said: “It’s almost copied verbatim by Android. And then they licence it around promiscuously. And then Android starts surpassing Apple in market share, and this totally infuriated him. It wasn’t a matter of money. He said: ‘You can’t pay me off, I’m here to destroy you’.”
As for what will happen now that Jobs isn’t around to go ‘thermonuclear’ on Google, Isaacson thinks that Apple CEO Tim Cook will handle things differently. “Tim Cook will settle that lawsuit”, Isaacson added.
Meanwhile, what Larry Page was actually trying to focus on in the Bloomberg interview was the fact that Jobs spent so much time with him toward the end, mentoring the young founder and CEO.
“I had a relationship with Steve. I wouldn’t say I spent a lot of time with him over the years, but I saw him periodically. Curiously enough, actually, he requested that meeting.”
“He sent me an e-mail and said: ‘Hey, you want to get together and chat?’ I said, ‘Sure, I’ll come over.’ And we had a very nice talk. We always did when we had a discussion generally,” said Larry Page.
He continued: “He [Steve Jobs] was quite sick. I took it as an honor that he wanted to spend some time with me. I figured he wanted to spend time with his family at that point.”
“He had a lot of interesting insights about how to run a company and that was pretty much what we discussed,” he added.