Google, meet Apple. Apple, meet Google.

Oh, you two already know each other? Great! Time for the two of you to hurry up and tie the knot, then. Or at least start working together.

It’s easy to see why tech fantasists root for a future tie-up between the two companies. Their fan bases would view a Google (nasdaq: GOOG news people )-Apple (nasdaq: AAPL news people ) collaboration like a super group, all-star sports team or celebrity romance–all in one.

And the children would be beautiful. Imagine a Google integrating its search prowess deep into Apple’s slick operating system. Or iPods that come loaded with Google maps, plugged into a wi-fi system powered by the search giant.

In Pictures: Google + Apple = ?

Or lower your expectations, and simply imagine what would happen if Apple integrated Google’s YouTube into the Apple TV product it shipped this spring. Suddenly the device, which has received respectful reviews but little buzz, becomes much more compelling.

So how realistic is a joint project? On the one hand, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs is famously devoted to controlling whatever product his company releases. On the other, the two companies have already been flirting for quite a while. Last year Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt joined the Apple board, and Genentech (nyse: DNA news people ) Chief Executive Arthur Levinson also sits on the boards of both companies.

Granted, a seat on the board doesn’t guarantee anything beyond a seat on the board: Oracle (nasdaq: ORCL news people ) chief executive Larry Ellison sat on Apple’s board until 2002, and his spot didn’t result in a slew of Oracle-inspired Apple gadgets.

But Schmidt has a habit of raising expectations of some kind of collaboration with blog-stoking quotes like, “Google and Apple are doing more and more things together through the normal course of communications. … We have similar goals and similar competitors.”

Listen to the Google guys and you figure it’s already a love affair. A group of Apple devotees from Google recently made a visit to Apple’s campus to gawk and eat lunch. After a chance sighting of Jobs at the salad bar with industrial design guru Jonathan Ive, the Google guys were floored. The official Google blog says it all: “Our Google group and many other folks stopped eating long enough to follow the two rock stars around the room for a while.”

Apple has already made a Google search box the default search engine of choice in the Safari browser that comes with all Mac computers.

Further Google-Apple collaborations seem inevitable, and AppleTV plus YouTube content partnership is only one of the possibilities. We’ve wracked our brains to come up with the most desirable, lucrative and fanciful offspring the two companies could create. You won’t find a Google-Apple mobile phone on our list. That’s because it’s already here–the upcoming Apple iPhone will already feature integrated Google maps and search. Of course, Yahoo!‘s (nasdaq: YHOO news people ) also onboard the iPhone with a mal application, thus diluting potential for Google-Apple phone branding.

Neither do we think Apple’s iTunes store will be filled with Google advertising any time soon. If Jobs wanted to make money that way, he would have done so long ago, we figure.

Instead, we’ve listed combinations that follow both companies’ paths down the road a little bit, and a lot. Google’s got a robust desktop search product while Apple has the less functional Spotlight tool in Mac OSX. We imagine Google’s desktop offering integrated into Apple’s operating system. On the wilder side, Google’s got in-Game advertising through recent acquisition AdScape, while Apple is reportedly recruiting game-design students. Could the iPhone or another platform become a Google-supported gaming system? Even further along, we can see the makings of a sight-seeing product for tourists based off GPS-powered iPods that take advantage of Google maps.

Why not? Stranger things have happened. What at one time seems impossible from Apple, can indeed become a reality. Who would have ever thought that Macs would one day run Windows, or Intel (nasdaq: INTC news people ) chips? And against all odds, the iPhone turned out to be real, and it’s almost here.


If you liked this post you can buy me a cup of coffee! 😉

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Microsoft beats Google to Facebook stake

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp beat out Google Inc on Wednesday in a battle to invest in socializing Web site Facebook, agreeing to pay $240 million for a 1.6 percent stake in the Web phenomenon.

Microsoft also clinched exclusive rights to sell ads on Facebook outside of the United States as part of the investment that valued Facebook at $15 billion — on par with the market capitalizations of retailer Gap Inc and hotel chain Marriott International Inc.

Analysts said Microsoft paid a steep price on a bet that the three-year-old company would be able to transform itself into a hub for all sorts of Web activity.

“The only way this works is if Facebook becomes sort of the users’ operating system on the Internet — everyone logs into Facebook every day to get in contact with their friends and use a multitude of future applications that will be developed for it,” said Morningstar analyst Toan Tran.

Facebook, a social network that lets friends share information, allows outside developers to create games and other applications for its site.

The popularity and depth of knowledge Facebook has about its users makes it valuable to companies like Microsoft and Google which want to sell advertising targeted to individual preferences.

Founded in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook said it registers 250,000 new users a day, 60 percent of whom come from outside the United States.

Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft’s platform and services division, said the $15 billion price tag for Facebook is based on Microsoft’s belief that the site could eventually reach 300 million users, who can be targeted for advertising. It has nearly 50 million today.

You combine the number of users with the monetization opportunities and you can figure out a fairly modest average revenue per user per year and you can very quickly get to this level of valuation,” Johnson said in a conference call with analysts and reporters.

Microsoft has stepped up efforts to be a player in the $40 billion market for online advertising, which the company expects to double in size within three years. It paid $6 billion to acquire digital advertising firm aQuantive in August.

Under the Facebook deal, Microsoft would be the exclusive third-party advertising platform for Facebook extending a previous deal for Microsoft to sell banner advertising next to Facebook member profiles in the U.S. until 2011.


Google and Microsoft, now rivals for Internet-based audiences and applications, have butted heads before for Internet properties. Google beat Microsoft with a $1.65 billion acquisition of online video sharing site YouTube last year.

Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li said that Microsoft was a better strategic fit for Facebook, since it knew how to work with software developers and build computing environments — such as its Windows operating system.

“Microsoft is a company that knows how to build platforms, knows how to develop relationships with developers. Microsoft developed the network that is the biggest, most vibrant one out there,” she said. “Google didn’t bring as much to the deal.”

Facebook opened its doors to users beyond an original base of college students a year ago. It also opened the doors to outside developers and there are tens of thousands of developers writing Facebook applications, the company said.

Microsoft was one of many suitors looking to participate in its latest round of financing, said Facebook Vice President Owen Van Natta. The funds will go toward doubling the company’s staff over the next year and other growth initiatives.

Google Co-founder Sergey Brin told a meeting with Wall Street analysts at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters that his company could partner with important Web sites.

“We don’t feel, at a higher level, that we need to own every successful company on the Internet,” said Brin, who later told reporters that Microsoft may have overbid.

Google has a multiyear deal with MySpace, the largest social network, to provide search and advertising alongside MySpace’s 110 million user profiles.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, told reporters that its pact with MySpace is performing better than originally expected.

Shares of Microsoft rose slightly to $31.60 from a Nasdaq close of $31.25, while Google ticked down to $675.30 from a close of $675.82.

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Hands-on with Gmail’s new IMAP support

Gmail is getting support for IMAP clients like Outlook, Thunderbird, and the iPhone. This means that Gmail users will no longer limited to the user interface or to the weak integration they can get from clients using the much more rudimentary POP email protocol.

There’s no word on the official rollout schedule for IMAP support. Some users have it, some don’t. I do. Don’t ask me why. To see if you have support, click on the “Settings” link and then see if you have a “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab.

Look for the IMAP label.

If your account is IMAP enabled, these instructions will walk your through configuring your account and your client software.

Why does this matter? Because IMAP is a two-way email protocol. IMAP client applications can interact with IMAP servers, like Gmail’s, so data on both sides stays in sync. If you have multiple IMAP client apps, they’ll all show the same email messages (including indicating which messages have been read) as long as they stay connected. However, Gmail handles email differently from most standard email client software, so the integration will take getting used to. For example, if you move a message from one folder to another in your desktop email client (like Outlook or Thunderbird), the message’s label in Gmail will change to match — since Gmail doesn’t have folders, per se. Google’s IMAP behavior chart lists the differences.


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