On Jan. 5, Google (GOOG) did a very Apple-like thing. In a presentation at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., the 11-year-old search behemoth unveiled Nexus One, a stylish touchscreen smartphone that runs on the company's Android operating system, is sold through a Google-operated retail Web site, and greets the market with an advertising tagline ("Web meets phone") as simple and optimistic as the one Apple used in 2007 to introduce its iPhone ("The Internet in your pocket").
On the same day, Apple did a very Google-like thing. Steve Jobs, the king of splashy product launches and in-house development, announced a strategic acquisition. For $275 million, Apple purchased Quattro Wireless, an upstart advertising company that excels at targeting ads to mobile-phone users based on their behavior.
When companies start to imitate one another, it's usually either an extreme case of flattery—or war. In the case of Google and Apple, it's both. Separated by a mere 10 miles in Silicon Valley, the two have been on famously good terms for almost a decade. Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, both 54, spent years in separate battles against Microsoft (MSFT) while Schmidt was at Sun Microsystems (JAVA) and Novell (NOVL). Over time, they went from spiritual allies to strategic ones. When Apple had an opening on its board in 2006, Jobs tapped Schmidt. "Eric is obviously doing a terrific job as CEO of Google," Jobs said at the time. Schmidt, meanwhile, called Apple "one of the companies in the world that I most admire."
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