Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, when asked about the prospects of their predictive digital assistant, Google Now, coming to iOS, reportedly lobbed the ball back into Apple's court. Mahendra Palsule of TechMeme, who was on hand at the Big Tent Conference in India, tweeted the remark:
Alan: "When can I get Google Now on my iPhone?" Schmidt: "You'll have to ask Apple" #BigTentIndia
Schmidt is, of course, being his trademark insincere self. Is the comment meant to imply Google is waiting on Apple to build and release Google Now for iOS themselves? That Google has built and submitted Google Now for iOS to the App Store and is waiting on Apple to approve it? That Google wants to build Google Now for iOS but they need Apple to provide more system access than the current SDK allows?
WTF would we "ask Apple" about a Google product? Should we ask Google when iTunes is coming to Android? Should we ask Microsoft when BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is coming to Windows Phone? And who else, other than Nintendo, should we ask about Super Mario coming to other platforms?
This isn't the first time Schmidt and Google have given completely disingenuous answers when it comes to Apple and iOS. From ludicrous misstatements about the nature of open and closed systems to ridiculous claims of surprise when Apple announced their new Maps app, we're well passed the point where the only explanation left is that he and they think we're either profoundly gullible or profoundly stupid, or both.
Attempted Sith mind-tricks aside, I'd love to see Google Now on iOS. The performance of Google Search is fantastic, and Google Now goes well beyond that, and Siri, to provide an amazing level of push-data. However, given Apple's restrictions on system-level access for iOS, I don't think a really robust Google Now app would be possible. (That might be what Schmidt meant, and if so, should have been what he said.)
Allowing that kind of system-level access to user data might not be a good idea either. Google probably wouldn't abuse it, but there's been enough privacy concerns with the existing sandboxes in place that Apple is probably right to remain conservative. And since Google chose to switch from being a close partner to being an aggressive competitor with Apple, special dispensation is extremely unlikely.
That's likely irksome from Google's perspective, since it looks like their short-term future is hinged on the more integrated Google+ and Google Now products. Unlike Apple's hardware model, which can generate most of the industry's profit share despite not owning most of the market share, Google's services model needs the attention of the masses to make money. And iOS users use tons of services and generate tons of money. But Google chose their ad-driven business model, and their current relationship with Apple. They own that.
So, unless and until something changes, rather than asking Apple about Google Now, I'll just ask Eric Schmidt to treat consumers with a little more respect.
Update: CNET has both the full quote from Schmidt, which implied Apple might not be allowing Google Now into the App Store, and a response from Apple:
Apple has confirmed to CNET that the Google Now application was never submitted for approval to its App Store.