Steve Jobs in ‘In the Plex’

April 13, 2011, 10:40 AM UTC

Apple’s deteriorating relationship with Google is a running theme in Steven Levy’s new book

Levy's book party in Manhattan. Photo: PED

One of the first details to leak out of
In the Plex
— the new page-turner about Google released Tuesday — was that when Larry Page and Sergey Brin were pressed to hire a CEO, Steve Jobs was their first choice.

But Steven Levy — who had previously chronicled the creation of the Mac (
Insanely Great
) and the iPod (
The Perfect Thing
) — has lots more to say about the relationship of Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) in his latest book. Among the highlights:

  • Early days: “The two firms embarked on a potentially glorious, industry-changing alliance in which the veteran Jobs would lend expertise and wisdom to the smarty-pants Internet kids and the two firms together would take down Microsoft.”
  • Eric Schmidt joins Apple’s board: “There was so much overlap that it was almost as if Apple and Google were a single company. .. ‘If we merge the companies we can call it AppleGoo,” Schmidt joked. ‘But we can merge without merging.'”
  • Android’s OS becomes more iPhone like: “It took a while for Jobs to understand that Google was becoming a competitor… By 2008, however, the trajectories of the two companies, at least with respect to phones, was less a merger than an impending collision.”
  • Chrome: “Insiders say that over a period of months, Jobs concluded that he was the victim of deceit. The first alarming sign of Google pursuing its vision regardless of its effect on Apple was the Chrome browser.”
  • Android: “Android, though, was much worse. As he learned more about how the benign competitor he had envisioned was actually a full-blown alternative to the iPhone, Jobs became increasingly upset. … From all accounts, Jobs prided himself as a canny observer, not only of business but also of human character, and he did not want to admit — especially to himself — that he had been betrayed by the two young men he had been attempting to mentor.”
  • Jobs visits the Googleplex: “In the summer of 2008, Jobs ventured to Mountain View to personally judge the extent of the violation. He was reportedly furious. Not only did he believe that Google had performed a bait and switch on him… but he also felt Google had stolen Apple’s intellectual property to do so.”

There’s more where that came from. The book is available in hardback from Simon & Schuster ($26) and in a digital version on Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle and Apple’s iBookstore ($12.99).

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]