Google and Apple Friendship Draws Suspicion

Trade regulators looking into close ties between the two companies

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Karl Baron
    Google builds plenty of applications for the iPhone, even though it competes in the handset market with the Android operating system.

    The Federal Trade Commission is looking into just how BFF Cupertino-based Apple and Mountain View-based Google really are, according to reports.

    The two companies nominally compete in the mobile phone business and in online services like photo sharing.

    They also share two board members. Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson sit on the boards of both Apple and Google.

    The nature of the mobile phone business and online services business is only getting more closely tied -- a user of the T-Mobile G1, a phone which runs an operating system developed by Google, could conceivably post pictures to an Apple MobileMe account, or an iPhone user post pictures on Google-owned Picasa.

    In other words, as mobile and Web services become more related and interoperable, there is possibility for collusion. Apple and Google could combine to set standards which competitors would have to follow, for instance.

    The overlapping boards also serve as a sign of just how small and clubby the power brokers in Silicon Valley really are.

    Photo by Karl Baron.

    Jackson West is running Gmail on his MacBook right now.