Today in Apple history: Google comes out of beta


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Google and Apple were friends at first. It didn't last.
Photo: Google/Apple

September 21 Today in Apple history September 21, 1999: A little startup called Google comes out of beta, with the launch of a website that will let the general public easily search the internet for information.

To Apple, which is embracing the internet with its twin iMac G3 and iBook products, Google seems like the perfect ally. Sadly, the relationship doesn’t remain rosy for long.

Apple and Google: Friends, then enemies

Apple’s history with Google is more complex than some believe. For starters, Google’s founding algorithm, PageRank — which rated search results based on “hyperlink” citations — built upon the hyperlinked dream of former Apple employee and HyperCard creator Bill Atkinson, who worked on the original Mac.

Google’s homepage changed surprisingly little over the years.
Photo: Google

More notably, Steve Jobs was a mentor to Google’s two young founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In fact, when the duo was asked to pick a first CEO for Google to act as “adult supervision,” Jobs was the only person on their shortlist.

As the CEO of both Apple and Pixar Animation Studios, Jobs didn’t take the role. However, it’s fascinating to consider that this was once on the table. Google CEO Eric Schmidt later joined Apple’s board of directors — proof positive of the closeness of the two companies.

Apple vs. Google

Ultimately, the two companies’ falling out came with the debut of Google’s Android operating system. Unsurprisingly, Jobs saw this as a betrayal, since Schmidt had been on Apple’s board when it was developing iOS. This is the point at which Jobs mentioned his “thermonuclear war” on Google and threatened to sue the search company into oblivion.

Today, relations between Apple and Google have improved, although the battle over mobile operating systems, mapping software and, recently, AI technologies continues.

(As a fun bonus, check out this video of a late-1999 team meeting at Google to give you an idea of just how far the company has come.)