When Android Met iPhone

You might think it strange to see Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) giving Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Maps front-and-center exposure in the new iPhone software. "Isn't Google sending android armies to kill the iPhone? These guys are mortal enemies!"

Nope. Android was never meant to destroy the iPhone, and the two companies get along just fine. Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been an Apple board member since 2006, and Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson is a director of both companies, as well. The high-level ties between Google and Apple run very deep.

To Google, the iPhone is just another device that brings the Internet and potential Google users closer together. The iPhone just happens to be really good at it.

The reason that the Android platform exists with Google's official backing is that Apple was picky in choosing a wireless partner. You're stuck with AT&T (NYSE: T  ) if you want an American iPhone today. If you prefer the service at Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Vodafone and Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) , or Sprint (NYSE: S  ) , well, you're largely out of luck. So Google is providing a platform that comes close to Apple's total slickness, and encourages the likes of Samsung and HTC to build "iPhone killers" for whatever wireless provider they choose.

But again, there's not much killing going on. Google mainly wants to grow its addressable market. Sure, the iPhone's market share might suffer some collateral damage over time. We've only seen the very first generation of rough-and-ready Androids so far, and there's plenty of room for improvement.

A second- or third-generation Android could put a dent in Apple. But it'll just be a dent. Both platforms should continue to grow their sales for years to come. Oh, and Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) BlackBerry is different enough to keep a stranglehold on its ultra-loyal fans, too -- at least for the foreseeable future.

If anybody should be scared, it's Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) . Google and Apple are presenting a unified front against the Windows Mobile smartphone platform. If any phone platform is going to die, place your death-pool bets on that one.

Further Foolishness:

Microsoft and Sprint Nextel are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. He uses a Windows Mobile phone by HTC, and is none too happy about that. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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